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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Everett Audio Clip and Transcript

Everett Audio Clip

Interviewer: Jeff Friedman

Jeff: So how did you find dance?

Frank: I-I was

Jeff: Or did it find you?

Frank: ... I was seventeen - it kind of found me because I didn't know anything about dance. I grew up mostly in New Hampshire and all my friends that I ever met were stoner types and New Hampshire's kind of a backwards place, really (laughs). So I never was exposed to any kind of dance. The first time I heard the word "ballet" was probably when I was sixteen or seventeen and I was like - "Well, what's ballet?" I had no idea what that was.

And I saw "All That Jazz." I'm not sure if I saw "All That Jazz" or "Fame" first. One or the other, but I saw them pretty close together. I thought - " Now, I can do that.: And I thought - "Well, let me try and find a class or something."

So I found a local modern dance class in Lambertville, New Jersy where I was living, a tiny little town. There was a woman who was taeching modern jazz and I studied with her. At that point, I was on the verge of suicide and I was on the verge - well -  I think I was an alcoholic. I couldn't not drink; I couldn't control myself. I had dropped out of high school and I was working as cook in a restaurant in New Hope, Pennsylvania which is right across the river from Lambertville. I saw these movies and I thought "Ok, I'm not gonna kill myself, I'm gonna try this!" I think after I saw "Fame" I realized that I could go and take these classes. I could study.

I started taking classes and I would go to class drunk. The woman who was teaching, she knew, and something about her - she understood, she understood you know? That I had all these troubles, but that I was trying to find something to help, and she knew that if she just let me come to class and encouraged me that eventually I would get my shit together. After a few more classes she told me "You know, I want you to come to class more often so I'm going to give you a scholarship and you can come and take any of my classes," right? "As much as you want." And then she said " The only thing is, you have to come to this many classes." So she had me coming to class at least five times a week. I said "OK." I would still be drunk and do drugs and be wild. All the time I was trying to stop, I was trying not to go to class drunk, but I was out of control. Then she said - it was maybe after a couple of months - she said "Look, I think you're really talented and I think you can go a long way with this if you really want to." She said "I received this application in the mail for my students, anybody I thought would be good enough to go to this summer workshop at Rutgers University, and I want to recommend you for it."

I went, I auditioned, I got accepted and I went for the summer. It was two month, an intensive, and it was perfect because everybody was underage and noone could go outside.

 ©Museum of Performance + Design

Frank Everett
Everett Audio Clip and Transcript