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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Gentry Audio Clip and Transcript

Gentry Audio Clip

I knew somehow that I would meet Hanya, because Bernice was in the company, but after all, Martha Graham had offered me a scholarship and I intended to go to Martha and arrange for the scholarship. And Henry Cowell had told me to go see Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. So I thought, well I’ll go visit them. I’d never seen any of these people dance! I had seen Martha dance but I had never seen Hanya. I didn’t know anything about Hanya’s work except what Bernice had told me. All right, I saw the New York Times occasionally and I saw the Dance Observer [but that was my only exposure].

So I was very excited but I was also dismayed and confused. I didn’t know what to do. Hanya said, “Rehearsals will start nine o’clock on Monday.” So I think it was that night that my family gave me a party of friends. I said, “But I was going to go see Martha and but . . .” And they said, “What’s the matter with you. If you go to see Martha and go and accept her scholarship, you’re going to have to sit on the floor for three years.” You’ve probably heard this, with Martha. You have to sit on the floor, because that’s what her technique was and do contractions for three years before you ever got even a look-see and with Doris and Charles they’d never seen me so I had no idea what they might offer me. “Hanya,” my friends said, “Hanya’s offering a place in the company!”

So of course I couldn’t turn that down but I was very mixed up. I was very confused.

 ©Museum of Performance + Design

Eve Gentry
Gentry Audio Clip and Transcript