2/4/23 O&A NYC MORE HARKNESS STORIES: Mary Price Boday- Each Day I Offer Gratitude

Harkness House touched the lives of everyone who ever dashed up the circular marble staircase for class. An American Ballet Story takes us into the stages and studios of the Harkness Ballet through the stories of the dancers who were there. The documentary about the all too short life of the Harkness Ballet of New York, will have it’s New York live screening premiere on April 20th at the New York Public Library Performing Arts – Bruno Walter Auditorium. O&A NYC Magazine Editor in Chief Walter Rutledge will moderate the post screening Q and A. . The screening is free but you must reserve seating in advance. 

If you have a stories you would like to share about your Harkness experience please send your articles (250- 500 words recommended) and  photos to walt.harkness@gmail.com.

By Mary Price Boday

Each day I offer gratitude to Rebekah Harkness and the people of the Harkness Ballet. She gave professional dancers a chance to perform touring the world and at home, in New York City. The best choreographers of the time were hired to create new works. These Harkness dancers were paid a living wage in working conditions that were top notch. The dance training and coaching was excellent. Physical therapy plus a medical doctor were on staff. Additionally Mrs. Harkness  provided for the Harkness Trainees, who were the Second Harkness Company. Those dancers  received top training in several dance idioms, a weekly salary, and all of their dance clothes.  It was a wonderful place to train and work.

Why do I know this? For two reasons.  When the Harkness Ballet performed in New York City, I attended every performance, and the other reason was Darrell Barnett.  Darrell and I came together from Oklahoma in fall of 1970. Prior to this, I taught Darrell for the previous nine months at the University of Oklahoma in ballet and modern [Martha Graham and Jose Limon] techniques. When we arrived in New York, we both got into several small modern dance companies. In the summer of 1971, Darrell joined the Harkness Ballet Company and began touring right away.

David Howard and Maria Vegh were co-directors of the Harkness School and the Harkness Second Company. When they learned I had trained Darrell, they asked me to become a faculty member of the school teaching modern and ballet.  Additionally, I was also paid to choreograph for the Harkness Second Company. As an added bonus, I could take all of the dance classes offered at Harkness Ballet.

An interesting event happened in the spring of 1973. Rebekah Harkness, along with David Howard, Maria Vegh, and other Harkness Ballet Faculty, came to a special presentation of my choreography of the Harkness Second Company.  The music I used for this piece of choreography was the Adagio movement of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto.

Following the performance, Mrs. Harkness discussed with David Howard and Maria Vegh that she loved my choreographic work. However, she also told them she felt I was too young to be choreographing such mature works. Mr. Howard asked her what age she thought I was, and she replied 17 years of age.  He didn’t tell her my real age at the time, 28 years of age.  For my next piece of choreography, Mrs. Harkness requested me to choreograph a light piece of choreography.  In the spring of 1974, I choreographed four movements to the music of Bach.

Teaching, choreographing, taking dance classes, being coached by David Howard, catapulted me into a exceptional continued career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

Mary Price Boday                                                                                                                                                                            Harkness Ballet, Zurich Ballet, the Illinois Ballet                                                                                      www.marypriceboday.com                                                                                                                        marypriceboday@gmail.com

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Out & About NYC Magazine was founded to offer the arts and lifestyle enthusiast a fresh new look at New York City. We will showcase the established and the emerging, the traditional and the trendy. And we will do it with élan, and panache with a dash of fun.
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