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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Beckford Audio Clip and Transcript

Beckford Audio Clip

I remember I gave a lecture one time for the California Dance Educators. I had categorized [dancers into] ones and twos and threes. I said, "If you're a one, you're a single person and you don't have anything to think about but you. Get up and go dance all day. Come home, sore muscles, no problem. If you don't want to clean your house, no problem. You just dance, single-minded, dance.

"If you're a two, you're married, no children, but before you leave to go to the studio, before you leave to go to rehearsal, you have to make sure that, 'Well, when are you coming home? Well, is dinner ready? Well, is...?' So you're a little more scattered. You're not as concentrated.

If you're a three, you've got children. So before you hit that dance studio you're already exhausted. You might have had to be up all night with a kid. You might have had to run them to the baby sitter before you got to rehearsal so you get there [panting]. And no one cares. You have to be more dedicated. Also, though, you may not be as sharp because you're already tired. So, if you're saying we're going to have a four-hour rehearsal, 'Oh Lord, I haven't slept, I got to go get the child, I gotta.' So you're not centered. That's a three.

"And a poor four is a single parent. Her guilt is set. Well, the guilt is there if you're married with children too. But if you're a single parent you're doing something for you and you're thinking, "Well, I should be over there with the kids.' Your energy level has to be lower."

So I told them, "Just think about where you are--Are you going to be a one or a two or a three or a four?--before you get there. Because it's too late after you get there. I've seen so many talented students who got there and they're a three and the husband was attracted to her 'cause she was a dancer and as soon as [they're married], "Oh no, you can't dance, that's too much time out." You come home tired, you're always saying something hurts." This really ruins careers. So I say, "Think about it. If you get married make sure he's for this. If you're going to have children, understand what you're going to have to do to make all this work." So after, somebody came up, "I wish I'd heard your speech three years ago" (laughing).

But it's very serious because it does involve your body and you do have to have full energy. So if you marry, then you have to make sure that this man understands what your career is. If this is your career.

©Museum of Performance + Design

Ruth Beckford
Beckford Audio Clip and Transcript