This may not be a typical ballet event, but it is news.
John Goding, the beloved ballet master of WB, and original company member, (along with yours-truly) died of a pulmonary embolism in early August. The memorial service was needed, as one of the dancers stated, as a sense of closure.
Having danced with John in his earliest years, I noted his willingness to be kind to others. A trait not always shared by dancers competing with each other and themselves for parts. Personally, I was not close to him. These were the beginnings of a fledgling company and the Choo San Goh years. Hungry years. There was little pay check and income supplementation was absolutely necessary for all of us. Many received help from parents; others worked moonlighting and odd jobs to make ends meet. The Porter Street Dorm was a helpful as a residence for many of us - for a time, including myself, even though I was raised in that neighborhood.
John was immediately spotted by Choo San and inserted into Double Contrasts for its premere. I'd been dancing for longer, but could not match his ability to move even at that stage. He was dropped into a principal role next to James Canfield and Pat Miller (I don't remember his partner - Lynn Cote?) It was a fun ballet to dance. Then there was "Birds of Paradise", "Introducing..." and many others, most I was not there to dance or see, as I'd moved on to positions in companies that more appreciated my dancing. But, I always came home to watch John and the other dancers.
The Memorial was sort of like a low key 65th reunion for many dancers and now us old fogies who were there in the pioneering stages of the company. Many of the more recent years - 90s to present, who didn't know who all the straight backed-duck-walking old folks with expanding bellies and crows feet were milling about. I am sad for these young dancers, for John was a mentor to them. Now they have to shed the tears many of us shed in the 1980s as our friends and colleagues passed on at -far- too young an age.
For them and the rest of us on back to 1944, (if any are still around), I started a Facebook group..."The Washington Ballet Alumnae" page...along with one for the school. We of the original company posed for photos, that I will post on that page. Present were Patricia Berrend, Lynn Cote, Jon Jackson, Christine Matthews, Julie Miles, Helen Sumerwell and several ex-directors and board members. Missing mostly because they couldn't make it, were Berrend, Madelyn Berdes, James Canfield, Sharon Caplan, Robin Conrad, Robin Hardy, and Allison Zusi. However, alarming is the fact that Ricardo Mercado, Brian Jameson, & Terry Lacy all died many years ago... a good 1/3rd to a 1/2 of the male dancers from my generation who i knew are dead. Further sadly...we have to add John to their ranks.
Please post your memories, and talk about the memorial if you were there.
John Goding's Memorial serviceSunday, Sept 20th, Terrace Theatre Kennedy Center.
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