Laura de Freitas and I went to Wigman's summer school in 1958. Beverly was already there and was wonderful in helping us get around. We went partly because Wigman had been to the Playhouse that spring and had taught some classes and partly because Beverly's presence gave us some confidence we could cope. Wigman had a birthday while we were there. Laura and I took her some roses. The studio was in a lovely old house with a garden all around it.
I do remember one of Wigman's classes at the Playhouse. She made us turn and turn and turn perhaps for 5 minutes all in one place, feet turn out and in, out and in, over and over. No spotting. Several in the class had to rush to the bathroom. Wigman did not teach much, and I don't remember the name of the teacher who took over most of the classes. I remember we did the 6/8 exercise — bouncing up & down and changing feet every two beats and every three, and syncopated.
This was between the Airlift and the Wall. We were able (although not supposed to without a visa) to go to East Berlin. We went to the Brecht Theater and to the Opera (Prince Igor) in the East, and to Fidelio in the West.
Julie Hamilton Plues:
I, too, studied with Mary in Berlin in 1955. What an extraordinary and fascinating woman she was! I arrived in Berlin sort of by accident. My college roomate, Lou Thomas (Junior, as she was called then), suggested I extend my stay in Europe and visit and take classes with Mary. I am so grateful for that suggestion as it broadend my dance education by miles and miles. We spent hours in class and were fortunate enough to visit Mary at her home. I was only there for four months, but Jr. went on to dance in the Bayreuth Festival when Mary choreographed Carmina Burana over the summer.
Mary was a proud and elegant woman full of wisdom and we never tired of being in her presence. The days with her are still in my memory book and will never be forgotten.
I do have some notes and recollections about Mary when I performed for her in Milwaukee that last time she was in this country in 1957. Marion Yahr, a student and associate of Mary's from the 1930s, had invited Mary to Milwaukee for a series of seminars, so Louise Kloepper, Anna Nassif, Dina Madole, and a small ensemble of university dancers and I went over. We performed two of Annas works, both set to Webern, and I performed a solo that I dedicated to her, also set to Webern, called Little Black Boxes. Mary was outspokenly complimentary about all three works.
I stayed overnight in Milwaukee so that I could spend part of another day hearing Marys critiques and comments to the Milwaukee Dance Alliance and some of the students from University of WisconsonMilwaukee. We had breakfast together hers consisting of coffee and several cigarettes!