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Spring 2009 Archive


Well, not only is she a star of stage and screen, now Marge Beddow can add youtube and a website to her resume!  Since DO40’s youtube channel began a few months ago, Marge’s clips have been among the most watched of the channel.  Only those two killer-dillers, Penny Worth and Carolyn Kirsch workin’ Chicago have had more hits!  And now Marge has her own website

Marge Beddow – and she just finished a three week run in Johnny on the Spot, an off-Broadway show at St. Clements Theater. You go, gyrl!

Gretchen Wyler Memorial Held at Sardi's Sept. 25th

Dancers Over 40 attends to celebrate a vibrant singer, dancer, actress and Advisory Board Member

Wyler PhotoGretchen Wyler, a friend and dance partner of many DO40 members, died May 28 in California of complications from breast cancer. She was one of the first Broadway dancers to make the transition from the great White Way to the new world of television, the epicenter of which was at that time – New York City ! She appeared on numerous talk and panel shows and performed many times on the Ed Sullivan show – again, with many of our DO40 members. She was an early Advisory Board Member to our group and always kept in touch to tell us about her latest animal rescue!

Dancers over 40 were well represented, with Advisory Board Members Kathy Seng Gurland, George Marcy, Dick Korthaze, Ron Stratton and Pres John Sefakis. Also there were DO40ers Lois Silk, Marianne Seilbert, Ginger Perrin Perowsky, Carol Stevens-Maxwell, Ken Urmston and Lawrence Merritt, to name a few! Speakers included Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune, Jo Anne Worley, Documentary filmmaker Rick McKay, John Bowab and many of the staff of the Hollywood Office of the Humane Society, U.S.

D040 CrewAfter watching one of the wonderful video compilations shown that afternoon, Chita Rivera remarked that Gretchen was one of the triple threats – but by that she meant two things – yes, a singer, dancer and actress, but also only one of three “originals’ on Broadway in the ‘50s that did it all: Gretchen, Chita and Gwen (Verdon). Filmmaker Rick McKay acknowledged her extreme candor, in social situations and on film. Rick played an excerpt from his film Broadway: The Golden Age, where Gretchen very bluntly told of how she landed the role that made her a star in Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings. Shirley Maclaine was an understudy who made it big. Gretchen was the understudy to the understudy who went on to make it big!

Besides Silk Stockings, Gretchen took over for Gwen Verdon in Damn Yankees and from Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie. One of our DO40 Holiday rituals was to watch a videotape that Gretchen sent for our amusement. It was a compilation of all her television appearances, broken down on a separate piece of paper by the show name, the choreographer and the dancers that backed her up. Everyone would be pointing at the TV screen yelling “That’s Larry! That’s Ronnie! That’s me…with hair!” (yes, Frank Pietri!).

She was very active in animal rights way before it became chic. Gretchen had just retired from her VP post at the Human Society a year ago. Her passion for three things -- dance, animals and her friends -- was well known. She will be missed. If you have an anecdote or story about Gretchen you would like to share, please post it on our discussion board. There is a forum listed there for that purpose.

Click HERE for more photos from the Memorial

CLICK HERE for a story on Gretchen.

All Sentient Beings

DO40 Board Member: Gregg Mayer wants to share with you the latest from her non-profit organization, All Sentient Beings. Finally having received its tax-free status from the IRS, the group has as its mission the fostering, adoption of as many cats as we can handle, including helping relieve the numbers on death row (at the kill-shelters). We also are a clearinghouse with resources for educating and informing the public as to Pet Trusts, Advance Directives and Holistic animal care. Right now we are sending out the year-end Annual Fund Appeal and hope that some of you will take an interest in our cause.

Along with my busy schedule of teaching full-time (Kripalu yoga, Pilates, Meditation, Stretch) and writing full-time for our DO40 web page and my blog:

I include working on my own Board, your DO40 Board, and many other projects. I'm trying to help the universe, one paw at a time! Hope this resonates with some of you animal lovers!

A New Documentary about Two Great American Artists


Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob’s documentary Carmen & Geoffrey tells a story that is ”more than an outstanding, five-decade creative collaboration,” says Dance Magazine, “it’s also one of the dance world’s great love stories.”

Carmen & Geoffrey opens at the
Quad Cinema in New York on March 13, 2009

This illuminating documentary chronicles the work of the great American artists, Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder, who since the 1950's have both played a vital role in the world of American dance; on Broadway, in television & film, and in the studios of American master choreographers.

Filmed over three years, Carmen & Geoffrey is a spontaneous and revealing portrait that not only looks at their illustrious careers, bu t also delves deeper, telling the story of a forty-seven year long marriage and the creative partnership that has sustained their accomplishments.

The film juxtaposes beautifully filmed dance performances with intimate interviews, giving the audience a unique look at Carmen de Lavallade & Geoffrey Holder. The viewer not only meets two talented artists, but two good-humored and engaging people whose vibrant personalities jump off the screen.

The film contains rare dance footage from the 50’s and 60’s, both solos and duets, featuring Alvin Ailey, Herbert Ross, Lester Horton, Joe Layton, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker in Paris, among others. There are also contemporary works, including Carmen’s on-going partnership with Gus Solomons, Jr. and Dudley Williams and a sampling of Carmen’s and Geoffrey’s current choreographies.

Filming in New York, Texas, Trinidad and Paris, Atkinson and Doob capture the uninterr upted creativity of the couple and that of their distinguished colleagues, while building a story that is distinctly American.

Carmen de Lavallade was born in New Orleans, and moved at an early age with her father and two sisters to Los Angeles, where she won a scholarship to study with the pioneering choreographer, Lester Horton. She soon took along high school class-mate, Alvin Ailey, for his first dance class. She came to New York with Horton’s company, dancing the principal role in his production of Salome. As a result, she was offered several movie roles. She appeared in Lydia Bailey, and in Carmen Jones, choreographed by Herbert Ross. It was Ross who asked her to dance in the ground- breaking Broadway production of Truman Capote’s House of Flowers, where she met her future husband, Geoffrey Holder.

Soon de Lavallade became a well-known dance presence in New York. She made her debut as a principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera and went on to work with every prominent choreographer; from Agnes deMille to Glen Tetley, Joe Layton, and John Butler. Butler’s A Portrait of Billie, set to four songs by Billie Holiday, became Carmen’s signature piece. She also performed internationally, sharing a stage with Josephine Baker and touring the Far East with the de Lavallade-Ailey Dance Company.

She trained as an actress and joined the Yale Repertory Theater in the 1970’s, and continues to act on stage and screen. She currently works with Debbie Allen on Soul Possessed, which she performed at the Kennedy Center. She formed her new company, Paradigm, with two other living legends, Gus Solomons, Jr. and Dudley Williams. She has just completed remounting John Butler’s Carmina Burana, and restaged Joe Layton’s Porgy and Bess, for the Ailey Company.

Geoffrey Holder came from Trinidad to debut in House of Flowers, which he also co-choreographed with Herbert Ross. Later he directed and designed the costumes for The Wiz winning two Tony-Awards in the process. With his 6 foot 6 inch frame, extraordinary voice, and exuberant virtuosi, he seems a force larger than life. A two time Tony-Award winner, Drama Desk winner, Clio Award winner, and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Geoffrey’s many and varied talents have won him recognition as an actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, composer, librettist, director, costume designer, scenic designer, writer, photographer and painter. His ballet, Dougla is a permanent part of the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s repertoire, as is his work Prodigal Prince for the Ailey Company. Geoffrey is currently working on a feature film version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Red Slippers, as well as an African-American version of Alice in Wonderland. Additionally, he is the collaborator and subject of a book by the New York Times dance critic, Jennifer Dunning, The Marvelous World of Geoffrey Holder.

Filmmaker Linda Atkinson first met Carmen and Geoffrey while studying acting at the Yale School of Drama. She graduated with an MFA, having won the Carol Dye Acting Prize. She has performed around the country at theatres in cluding The Old Globe, the Yale Rep., the Indiana Rep., the Folger, and the Alaska Rep, New York’s Playwright’s Horizons, Manhattan Theater Club, The Public, and with Lyn Austin’s Lenox Theater Group. She began directing theatre in 1983 and worked at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Indiana Rep, the Peterborough Players, WestBank Theater Bar and for NBC’ s Another World. Working with her husband, Nick Doob, she produced a prize winning series of health related documentaries for high school students. She has recently directed an original play, FINEPRINT, at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. She is currently producing a film based on Robert Coles’s Women of Crisis.

Nick Doob has been a director, cinematographer and editor on numerous award-winning films. He has shot four Oscar nominated films including From Mao to Mozart, which won the Oscar. He directed Down from the Mountain with D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, and Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which won an Emmy. He has shot a number of Pennebaker-Hegedus films, including Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973), The War Room (1993), and directed with Chris Hegedus, Al Franken: God Spoke. In 2000 he won an Emmy as a producer on American High, the acclaimed verité TV series. For HBO he co-directed A Boy’s Life with Rory Kennedy and is currently directing and producing a film about Alzhe imer’s Disease for HBO.

2006, 80 Minutes, Color, Digital Beta, 4:3, Stereo
A Film by Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob

Featuring: Carmen de Lavallade; Geoffrey Holder; Boscoe Holder; Leo Holder;
Gus Solomons, Jr.; Dudley Williams; Judith Jamison; Jennifer Dunning; Alvin Ailey; Josephine Baker

Photography: Nick Doob
Additional Photography: Leo Holder; Ron Gray
Sound: Linda Atkinson
Editing: Nick Doob



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