from Chapter 3 - "On Stage!"

UNCH AND THE JUDY, l-r Robert Cohan, Martha Graham, me, Mark Ryder.

    We lined up, Martha signaled to Lanfer, we danced the Party Scene [from Letter to the World], then gathered at her feet.  She spoke softly, explaining that the Party Scene came early in the dance to establish Emily Dickinson's confined, male-dominated world.  She demanded that we muster a bearing more rigid, more arrogant than anything we had ever done. She described the tightly fitted clothing and stiff collars which our costumes would evoke.
     "But if your body does not bear its arrogance deep within, your costume will not give it to you!"
      "Poker assed," I whispered to Sasha, not intending Martha to hear, but she caught something and turned to me.
    "I was just saying, we know an Army term."
    "What is it?"

     She continued with a mix of inspiration and admonition until I had the impression that Letter to the World, her future, life on Earth as we know it, all hung on how we performed the Party Dance. She concluded with a phrase I would hear before many a performance:  "Success will be your success.  Failure will be my failure!"

The photo, above, is,  l - r, Robert Cohan, Martha, me, and Mark Ryder, in Martha's comedy, Punch and the Judy.

Link direct to Concord ePress, and Intro by Richard Move:

Diversion of Angels

    My partner was Helen McGehee, five feet tall, 100 pounds, steely slim, with patrician features, blue/green eyes, Virginia accent, and barbed wit.  Luckily she was indulgent. No matter how many times I fatuously called her hometown Lynchville or Lynchtown, she'd patiently say, "Lynchburg." [
    Helen and her husband, Umaña, invited me to dinner in the loft where they lived with his paintings and two Siamese cats.  The bouillabaisse was so hot my eyes watered. Everyone was eating it, so I did too, following each burning spoonful with a gulp of ice water.  Next day, Helen mentioned that when shaking in dried chili pepper, the top of the jar had come off emptying the entire shaker into the bubbling pot.
    "But why did you serve it?"
    "I wasn't going to throw it out."
    "You seemed to enjoy it."
    "I thought I was going to die!"

Dancers Studio


Nine of us got together, put down second-hand maple flooring, installed gas-fired radiators, painted the walls, tacked plastic under the skylights, and partitioned off dressing rooms.  We named it Dancers Studio, and rented it to ourselves for fifty cents an hour, to outsiders for a dollar.  Our first outside renters were Merce Cunningham and John Cage.

Photo: Bertram Ross on the ladder, Irving Burton already dancing, me (hidden) and Linda Margolies scraping the walls.

This is Chapter 3. 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 4 - Martha                         Chapter 10 - Dance Master
            Chapter 5 - Her Little Crackers      Chapter 11 - A Dancing Fool
            Chapter 6 - Critics Say                   Chapter 12 - Post-Martha Syndrome