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An Open Letter to Gene Marinaccio


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I came to this forum primarily to pass along an open letter from my late sister to Gene Marinaccio she wrote in 2014 for her blog. She studied with him, and he was a great influence in her life. If he is still around, and if anyone is in contact with him, it would be wonderful if you could pass this along to him. I give you her words...

Gene Marinaccio was, by far, one of the best dance teachers I have ever encountered. His combined depth of understanding of the art form, his comprehension of the human body's potential, and his ability to communicate all this to his students is well beyond the scope of most dance makers. I feel lucky to have studied with him. Unfortunately, I cannot locate him as I am pretty sure he has stopped teaching. The following is an open letter to Gene, and one that I should have written a long time ago.

 Dear Gene –

 This is one of those letters that should have been written years ago, but for whatever stupid reason wasn't.

 I would like to thank you for all the wonderful classes and all the wonderful choreography you created. But, most of all, I want to thank you for changing my life. You probably don't remember me, but I am Geri Cofone (now Jeter), the red-head Italian girl who took classes with you back in the late 60s, and occasionally after that, including at the studio located in the church on Wilshire.

 Yes, I took class; yes, I wanted to be a dancer. However, what I didn't understand until many years later is that you didn't only teach dance. You taught those who were listening how to live.

 One of the phrases I most remember is: "If you aren't going to dance for me now, when the hell are you?" I have paraphrased this many times over the course of my life. As a result, I have had so much fun and so many interesting moments. I have lived in England and various cities in the U. S., piloted a canal boat on the Avon, Regency danced with guys dressed as Klingons (my husband is a sci fi writer), catered the opening of the Bath Postal Museum, played with cool rocks as a graduate gemologist, sipped white wine at a café surrounded by snow banks in the Italian Alps, spent eight years as a dance writer in Nevada and California, edited technical theater magazines, and was chief editor of a magazine for the Las Vegas Italian-American community. Currently, my husband and I are living in Ecuador. Because, "When are you going to have an adventure? How about now?"

Additionally, all the physical work in ballet class has paid off in a way I never expected. Eleven years ago, we were in a pretty nasty car accident. Car was rear-ended, husband was fine, but the guy swerved and nailed my side of the car. The damage to my spine was extensive. The doctors wanted to do major surgery. They gave me tons of potent drugs (which I never took). After all the medical nonsense, I told them they could bag their surgery. They told me that I couldn't keep taking the major drugs I needed for much longer. I told them I never took those things and only ever took Advil. Then, they asked how was that possible because I had to be in a tremendous amount of pain. 

 Okay. My back hurts a lot. But so what? I got a Pilates Reformer and began a workout program. I am not healed completely, and sometimes I need a cane, but I am not in a wheelchair, and Advil is still the strongest thing I take.

 And it's all because of your classes and the lessons in how to overcome discomfort in the process of achieving a goal, whether it's a perfect placement or merely the ability to walk a few blocks. You also taught us to visualize our bodies and make corrections — pretty helpful when doing rehab.

 I know this may sound sad, but it isn't. I am so grateful for the things I can do and for the reasons I can do them. You and your classes are a great part of that. You taught your students that they could break down barriers, real and imagined. This is a remarkable gift you gave us all.

 That's pretty much it. I know teachers sometimes wonder whether anything gets through their students' thick skulls. Just thought you should know that even those who didn't continue dancing benefited tremendously from your efforts.

 Thanks again.

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Guest Gerald Moreno

Hey..I am writing this w/many emotions and feelings!!! I was a very devoted and serious student and dancer w/DANCER/TEACHER/CHOEROGRAPHER Gene Marinaccio in approximately the middle 1960’s..the “Cantque de la vie “ period !! I danced w/Linda Marx in another Marinaccio spectacular and Bill Merriman (?) ..the 2 years B4 I studied w/Pasadena Dance Theater under Evelyn La Monde.and TEDD WELSCH !!! ..I Loved dancing so much and KNEW that “Cantique” was going to b the BEST choreography I would ever dance!!! ..the “FUNNY GIRL” situation...

After 35 years of working, and 12 of then in Sa Diego w/Ca. Ballet / SD Opera and the BEST w/StarlightMuscialTheatet .(Don and Bonnie Ward )..I am so appreciating of ALL that Gene and ..

I must say, so that TEDD WELSCH also was a BIG inspiration and my FIRST teacher !!! I owe him and am so ashamed!!! ..Gene was a HUGE INSPIRATION to me and ALL who encounter him ..I GOT HIM(it took only years after) I listened to ADAGIO FOR STRINGS this AM and I CRYED !! That BALLET WAS SO BEAUTIFUL!!!  I remember the FIRST time I PERFORMED IT WAS IN LONG BEACH AND IT WAS LIKE MY FIRST BIG BALLET APPEARANCE!! MAGICAL!! I remember Gene did my makeup and I looked FUCKEN BEAUTIFUL!!! I didn’t want to take it off !! My partner was HOLLY ...She was a BIG inspiration!!!  

I am writing this to say that I think GENE and ALL of his work should B RE-DISCOVERED !! Looking back..I think ..maybe....politics got in the way... !! It was the 70’s....WE NEED A REVVAL OF HIS  WORKS !!! .....






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Guest Gerald Moreno

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about Gene Marinaccio...He was a HUGE impact in my LIFE/career/and spiritual path forward!! Thanks again 🙏🙏

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I grew up under the beautiful instruction of Tedd Welsch at Pasadena Dance Theater. I also took Gene’s classes; so inspirational!! Tedd was very close to our family, and remained close after I left to dance in Kansas with another gorgeous soul; Patrick Crommett. The last time I saw Tedd before he passed was just before he moved to Florida, to gain respite and peace from a horrific “gay bashing” in his home in Pasadena.

i just want to put out in the universe how much I loved Tedd-like with all my heart. Thanks to his sound teaching, I am still dancing at age 62! I’m glad I found this forum just to say this today!

thank you


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I'm so happy to see any mention of Gene! I was only 11 or 12 when I studied with Bill Merriman at a studio in Palos Verdes. Linda Marx was there too (?) and I also met Charles Ward. Bill encouraged my mom to take me to Hollywood for Gene's classes (where was the studio? I was 12!) I danced professionally in Chicago for 18 years and still teach here. I teach his floor exercises which were so instrumental in my technique and placement - he lives on. I would love to connect with anyone who was there in 1968-70 ish. 

Patti Eylar

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Hello All, 

I studied and danced with Gene from 1968 to 1973. I remember you, Gerald Moreno - just read your posts!! PLEASE, I’m desperate to speak to you, Jerry - or any of you who are willing - about our time with Gene, his genius etc…I’m currently working on my memoir and writing and am into my chapter about Gene and his work. Feel free to contact t me:

Mara Carrico, cmara@YogaLady.com

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I had worked for many years as a professional dancer and left to start a career at a major airline.

I returned to ballet classes with Gene Marinaccio and became re-inspired about dance as I had as a child when I first started classes.

Gene taught me such great technique and placement that I continue to do a floor each morning along with stretches, etc. inspired by Gene.

 I then returned to jazz classes with Joe Bennett and Gene immediately notice a change to my musicality.

So grateful for both men in my dance life...may only blessings be with them.

Tom Spangler  


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Greetings:  I am replying to those of you who have been trying to either locate Gene Marinaccio or get in touch with him.  As mentioned, Gene turned 90 years old in 2021.  He does live in Santa Barbara, CA.  I and four other American Concert Ballet alumni visited Gene in the summer of 2015. I have been loosely in touch with Gene on and off ever since this visit and had kept in touch with him over the years even prior to that visit through mutual dance colleagues who continued to work for many years with  Gene in the Los Angeles Area
Gene became very reclusive after the death of his partner and has struggled with some serious physical problems due to the demands of his dance career and the effects of advanced age.

If anyone is interested in communicating directly with me about Gene, you can email me at:  JulianaSN@aol.com

I danced for and studied with Gene during the early 1960’s, having joined his group at the tender age of 14.  I also studied with Michael Brigante during this period.  I performed and toured with Gene’s American Concert Ballet.  This before joining the San Francisco Ballet Company.

Juliana Navarro ( aka: Juliana Sakowsky)

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So happy to find this thread with so many kind and thoughtful words.  I attempted to reach out back in 2016, but got no responses back then.  I was a devoted student of Gene's from the late 90's until he retired in 2012.  He is a still a friend, mentor, and constant inspiration to me, and I am still in contact with him.  I've created a website genemarinaccio.org in an attempt to preserve his life, work and inspirations.  If you have any material, pictures, articles, testimonials, etc.. that you would like to share or any messages you would like me to forward on to him.  Please contact me via Contribute | Gene Marinaccio.  

Many thanks.

- Celia


Edited by celia
remove email and add contact form link
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