Doris Humphrey

DORIS HUMPHREY
DORIS HUMPHREY
I was happy to be included as one of "Martha Graham and her little crackers." My heart belonged to Martha, but this did not stop me from admiring beautiful luminous Doris Humphrey, who later hired me for my first Broadway show.

    In residence at Connectiut College, Doris Humphrey was making a new dance and I wanted to watch her rehearsals. Her pianist, Simon Sadoff, said I should ask permission, but assuming that like Martha, she wouldn't allow outsiders, I suggested a ruse.  Her music, Bela Bartok's Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion, reduced by Sadoff for one piano and a clanging metal ash tray, was fearsomely difficult to play. I asked to be his page turner. Pretending to have my eyes glued to the score, I watched rehearsals every day for a week. One day, Sadoff said Doris Humphrey had asked about me. Told I was in Martha's troupe, she said, "I don't understand that one. He comes to rehearsal every day, but never watches the dancing."

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Martha and Bertram Ross

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  Bertram' Ross's concentration never flagged and he was often able to suggest or make a move that led Martha to a breakthrough. No one approached his twenty-five years as Martha's partner, or the number of roles he created. Her eventual betrayal of him was an act of self-destruction.

Mary Hinkson

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    Two new dancers arrived at the Graham studio, Mary Hinkson and Matt Turney, both from the University of Wisconsin, both so stunning it was clear that college dance programs were producing brilliant young dancers.[MaryHinkson.jpg "Mary Hinkson"] [MattTurney.jpg "Matt Turney, with Martha"]

Matt Turney and Martha (in Dark Meadow)

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In Paris, 1954, Matt was given a day off in order to pose for a monk, noted painter of religious themes. He was making a  painting of the Virgin Mary and had specifically requested Matt. Martha seemed pleased when she told us. We left Paris long before the painting was finished so we never saw it. 

Irving Burton

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    Martha needed a man for the second Green tour. Irving Burton, taking classes, was a strong dancer but only five foot seven. At a fraction under six feet, I was the shortest man in the troupe. Bob, Bertram, and I told her she should consider Irving so she let us teach him "The Party" from Letter to the World. We danced it with him, they spoke privately, Irving left. Martha said, "Irving is a fine dancer, but his specialness draws the eye." 
    Years later, Irving told me, "She took me into her little private dressing room and said, 'You are a fine dancer, and will do something important in dance,  but not in my company."
    "Did she really say that?"
    "She might as well have," he replied with a smile. "I knew she'd never take me. She was only interested in Greek gods." Irving went on to a notable career in other modern troupes, as an actor, founding member of the Paper Bag Players, and a choreographer like no other. He made a dance titled, Thus Spake Sarabelka in which he gave his forehead a loud smack, frog walked, shivered and shook, as if under onslaught..
     Bertram Ross explained. "Sarabelka is his mother,"
    In another dance he did poundoing flat-footed jumps, toppled like a felled tree, swooped up to his feet as though yanked, repeating the sequence half a dozen times.
    "It's about masturbation," explained Bertram.
    

This is Chapter 5. Links to other Chapters:

go to:   HOME                                               Chapter 7 - TKO'd In Paris and London
            Chapter 1 - Dance Lessons            Chapter 8 - The Grand Tour
            Chapter 2 - Making Dances            Chapter 9 - Asia 
            Chapter 3 - On Stage!                     Chapter 10 - Dance Master
            Chapter 4 - Martha                           Chapter 11 - A Dancing Fool
            Chapter 6 - Critics Say                    Chapter 12 - Post-Martha Syndrome
                                                       CONTACT