Dance101 10/12 Year of the Plague

I got into dance when I was around 25. It totally had to do with Rudy Perez. One of the pearls that inhabited my Ivory Tower. Looking up his bio is astonishing, what a pearl I met at MMC. Certainly MMC was an oyster bed for my 5 years there.

I'm almost the least likely dancer I can imagine – and I even qualify as a pro – was paid (very little). All completely the accident of being a young male with not too bad a body – calves a bit like a ballet dancer. And I can tell you many stories where having one eye knocked me off the diagonal at rehearsals.

So there I was, one of probably 3 faculty at MMC who could stand erect in an intermediate dance class in NYC and I hooked up with Rudy. Rudy was a 60ish modern dance star (from's career began in New York, working various day jobs and studying dance at night with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Mary Anthony, and others. His breakthrough solos in the 1960's with the Judson Dance Theater - whose members included Lucinda Childs, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer - helped launch the postmodern movement in dance.

Martha Graham – what else can I say....

In 1970 he had a residency at MMC and had a grant which produced several performances around NYC – including Brooklyn Academy of Music. For the performances in 1970 he put together a massive troupe using the large Great Hall at MMC. A room worth describing. On East 71 Street, the 8 story building designed at the height of the Depression by John Russel Pope as a Junior League residence for young ladies – had a pool on the 8th floor with a skylight. And it only had one dressing room and I became a keen swimmer. On the ground floor was Great Hall. Big enuf and designed for tennis play. The sconce lights on the walls rotated to protect them during a game. Rudy's performance was like a giant West Side Story – jump jump Puerto Rican Rumble. A room full of jumping young people jumping.

I had never had dance classes – but I used to dance lots. My sister used to take me to Band Stand in Philly - my parents made her take me along. I always liked rubbing against girls and didn't mind.

I always attributed my being allowed to dance at intermediate level to my being a guy. They were always short of guys. And I didn't limp – and liked practice. So along with rehearsals at MMC and performances around the city I danced at DTW. Very in – The Dance Theater Workshop – a spin-off of Judson Dance Theater. Very busy dance classes. Most of them used by one of their choreographers building dances. Half the dancers took classes all day. With teaching I certainly had time for daily classes.

So I took lessons at DTW and ballet at Carnegie Hall with a live piano. So great standing at the barre doing exercises. And even some classes in broadway studios. I was never a serious threat to any American Ballet Theater male chorus line dancers. At the end of ballet classes in a large hall we would have a diagonal moving line. With spins and leaps. With one eye I was never symetric and would spin off on my own.

I loved being around women, wearing tights and the New Yorkishness of it all....