It’s been 43 years since I first set foot in the dance studio at Ohio State University as brand new Dance Major.
Last week, I got my copy of InForm Magazine from the OSU Dance Department. On the cover is a photo of a youthful Helen Alkire during her heyday. Helen was one of the founders of the department, and during my student years there, she was in her late 50’s. I was in her class - Dance 100 - Thursday evenings from 7-10 in Pomerine Gym. It was basically a survey course for incoming freshmen dance majors... a hodge-podge of departmental history, dance films, and practical advice on how to prevent injuries, and how not to gain weight eating the greasy dorm rations.
I didn’t know a thing about Helen at the time, except that she was the head-honcho of the Dance Department, and from what she shared, in her day she had danced with the greats... José Limon, Doris Humphrey, Martha Graham, Hanya Holm.
The cover photo stunned me, as did the article and the other photos of Helen inside the magazine. Because, you see, Helen celebrated her 100th birthday last May with with a fabulous gala at OSU. No longer the lithe gazelle she was in her 20’s, she now sports a motorized wheelchair... not sure if that’s her usual mode of transportation, or if that was the best way for her to navigate at the gala. But it’s a strange juxtaposition of photos... Helen in her motor-chair directly opposite a photograph of her as a graceful young dancer.
On that same page is a general history of the department, recognizing the other professors emeriti, most of whom were teachers of mine, and most of whom are still alive... elder statesmen of the Dance.
To be continued...