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dancemed

Erika Goodman

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Last week I was heartbroken to hear that Erica Goodman, a former dancer with Joffrey, had apparently died of a heart attack. She was still in her 50's, I think, and I was wondering if anyone had seen an obituary or knew anything more about the circumstances of her untimely death.

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I haven't heard anything of Erika's passing, and I've known her since she was 16. Let me check around and find out if any of our colleagues know anything.

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I'm going to go with this, even though I have no other confirming source, just information from today's Joffrey Ballet that Erika had passed away about two weeks ago. Even though she was a former Joffrey dancer, the company did not maintain any formal contacts with her. I haven't seen an obit, either, and would be curious, dancemed, how the news came to you.

In place of a formal obituary, I should like to offer this personal remembrance:

I remember Erika at 16. She was so thin, that you would have thought that she would break in doing her extraordinary developpés. As she matured, though, she became stockier, and she was always trying, in my opinion, to get back to how she looked at 16. She was the most marvelous legato and lyrical dancer, and her Schnofler-Tanz in "Kettentanz" with its extended flurry of bourrées all over the stage has never been equalled. She first came to high critical notice in Gerald Arpino's "Nightwings" as second cast to Lisa Bradley as the Bird-woman. She was one of the dancers selected personally by Robert Joffrey to make the "Delacorte Resurrection" of the Robert Joffrey Ballet after Rebekah Harkness split the Harkness Ballet away. Despite her appearance, she was an absolute feather to lift, one of those women that a partner feels that he may be holding to the stage, she felt so like she might fly off if not held down! A most atypical, unlikely-looking and yet marvel-filled dancer.

I suppose that even if the story isn't true, she might be happy to have somebody recall things like that about her. We should all be so lucky!

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Kettentanz is the only ballet I ever saw her dance, but I won't ever forget how wonderful she was. Thanks, Mel.

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I haven't heard anything of Erika's passing, and I've known her since she was 16.  Let me check around and find out if any of our colleagues know anything.

I was told of Erica's death by one of the teachers at the Joffrey School, and by a member of the company. Supposedly, she had just finished getting her doctorate and was helping out at Career Transition for Dancers in NYC. This dancer also informed me that Erica's cat needs a new home---if anyone has room.

I hope there will be an obituary, perhaps in Dance Magazine. Erica was a beautiful dancer and a courageous person. I remember seeing her in the Nova documentary "Dying to be thin" several years ago, where she quite openly discussed her battle with anorexia nervosa. I often use this documentary when I do a workshop for dancers, because it is extremely informative about the dangers of dieting, as well as offering the latest information on how to get help for eating problems.

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This is from Marcia Siegel's review of Tharp's Deuce Coupe, which Goodman was in the first cast of...

"To establish her dance idea, Tharp puts a serene Erika Goodman among the swirls of the other dancers, methodically performing the steps in the ballet dictionary, in alphabetical order. Every once in a while you notice her get caught up in the gushing energy of the mobs. She wavers, hops inelegantly and rhythmically on pointe, or her shoulders start to wiggle. But she sticks to her principals, and you don't resent her for it."

She looked to me like the center of a storm, or a true believer following her faith.

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Erika did keep her own privacy, and I was slightly astonished that she would speak out as forcefully as she did, just by appearing in "Dying to be Thin". She let some light in to a dark corner of the life of the mind and body. Still, privacy notwithstanding, I remain puzzled by the silence of the daily and weekly print media about her death. My information was word-of-mouth, too, coming from artistic staff of the company at Chicago.

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Very sad news. I never saw her perform, unfortunately. I did see her in "Dying to be Thin" and admired her for her candor and courage in speaking out.

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This is from Marcia Siegel's review of Tharp's Deuce Coupe, which Goodman was in the first cast of...

"To establish her dance idea, Tharp puts a serene Erika Goodman among the swirls of the other dancers, methodically performing the steps in the ballet dictionary, in alphabetical order.  Every once in a while you notice her get caught up in the gushing energy of the mobs.  She wavers, hops inelegantly and rhythmically on pointe, or her shoulders start to wiggle.  But she sticks to her principals, and you don't resent her for it."

She looked to me like the center of a storm, or a true believer following her faith.

In responding to Mel's astonishent that Erica woul reveal such a "dark" part of her life," I can only say that she was desperate to communicate her life story in the hope of helping other dancers avoid serious eating disorders. I know this from many personal conversations, where she requested my help in seeking out various avenues to discuss disordered eating in dancers. Stil, I have no idea why there was no obituary, given her talent.

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In the absence of print news on the matter, and within the rules of professional and personal propriety, perhaps the best thing we can do now is to remember her accomplishments with gratitude, that she would share them with us.

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I don't see any reason that this link shouldn't be here. It shows Erika at her most noble, speaking out in order to help the eating-disordered. Thanks for the link.

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I don't see any reason that this link shouldn't be here.  It shows Erika at her most noble, speaking out in order to help the eating-disordered.  Thanks for the link.

I couldn't agree more. Erica wanted to help other dancers avoid the lifelong struggle she endured. The documentary offers a candid view of this problem, & Erica's presence is invaluable. I can't tell you how many young dancers I know who have sought help for eating problems after hearing her speak. Erica Goodman's participation in the documentary was indeed a noble cause.

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Is there no one in the dance community who knows if Erika had an obituary or what became of her cat after she passed? It's been several weeks and I keep hoping that someone could provide more information. I admired her courage for speaking out about the dangers of eating disorders, and I would hope that her contribution to dance, as a performer and a mentor to weight-conscious dancers, would be acknowledged somewhere.

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i have had an email from ERIKA GOODMAN's sister about a gathering to celebrate "Erika's life, talent and accomplishments on Monday, March 28 from 6:00 - 7:00 at the Joffrey Ballet Studio and School in New York City."

Lona Livingston, Goodman's sister, noted seeking comments from those who knew Erika but who could not attend.

i know there are a number of readers of this site who knew Erika, so if you'd like to attend or to send comments here is the email that was given with the message:

livingston@colum.edu (this if from columbia college chicago).

if you had further questions or interests you might try communicating with Ms Livingston.

the Joffrey Studio address is 434 Avenue of the Americas, tel. 212 254 8520

i'd urge those wanting to attend to double check w/ Ms. Livingston to see if there sufficient room etc. or to see if she'd welcome rememberances to be read in lieu of your attending.

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For those who don't see Dance Magazine regularly, there is a very touching obituary in the new (May) issue of the magazine by Joseph Carman, which does discuss her struggle with eating disorders, but also speaks about her many attributes as a performer.

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And he would know. He was one of the many Joffrey dancers who served with Erika. And one of my nominees for all-time nice guy. :wink:

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