A Dancer’s Journey: It All Began with a Lie

The Biography of Mary Anthony

by Mary Price Boday

A Review

This biography covers Mary Anthony’s childhood, as well as the joys and hardships she experienced in the course of achieving her dreams. Included is the creation of her school, and later, her company. The book explores her golden years, her struggles, and surviving her greedy landlord in New York City. These events illustrate her tenacity and ability to withstand and conquer the many challenges in her life.
Dear Mary,

Reading the book is almost as good as visiting you. It is, Mary, almost a complete record of your life and work, although I did not find your wonderful quick wit in it. You and I have known each other, mainly from working around each other, since the 1940s. And then I recall many years later Beverly Blossom’s show at the Bernard Barouch. We had really not met up face to face for a long time and, as I escorted you to your seat, I said, “I am Ruth Grauert,” and you said, “Oh, I know who you are!” And then there came the Martha Hill Awards. I never could fathom why I preceded you in receiving that award, but I did, and we mutually congratulated each other.

And then Steven Vendola convinced both of us that I should light your annual Ceremony of Carols. That first year you had many of the original cast members from 1971 performing. As we stood together watching the dancers spacing their moves before rehearsal, you said, “Baby Jesus is turning gray. What will we do?” And then sadly Baby Jesus died and had to be replaced. Available was only the granddaughter of one of the principle dancers. And you said,“Baby Jesus is a little girl. What will we do?” Of course, the answer was foregone—the dance is the thing! Not much else matters.

I love the picture on page 60: “Mary Anthony directing and teaching in Italy”" because it shows the “take charge” Mary that I came to know. It has all the energy and command that you have put into your work all of your professional life.

As I write this “review” I know that it does not meet the usual review standards. However, it matches the tone of the book, as an informal conversation about your life and work, and I find that entirely appropriate and splendid.

I do thank you, Mary, for being you.

With love,

(May 23, 2013)

Note: After Nikolais was discharged from the Army (WW II), he went to the New York City studios to get back into dancer shape and studied with Graham, Humphrey/Weidman and Holm. Mary was teaching at the Holm studio, it was then that Mary and Nik met. It is possible that she taught some of the classes he took at that time. She and Nik remained fast friends.