Skip to main content
Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Henderson Audio Clip and Transcript

Henderson Audio Clip

Interviewer: Gail Kurtz

GK: Why didn't you join the group?

PH: Well. [laughter] If you were a dancer you would know. As Martha said, it takes ten years to make a dancer.  For one thing, I never reached the tremendous technique that her dance company does. See, I was twenty three years old when my chldren were born and I had my career, and I couldn't go beyond a certain point.

What happened was that I worked so hard on the dance that I had a physical breakdown and the doctor said, "You've got to choose between being a mother or a dancer." By this time I was twenty three or twenty four. So I had to give up being in Martha's group and dreams like that. It's the fantasy of every dancer that comes in to be in the company. To look at it practically, I did not have the physical strength. Those girls are so strong.

Well, in my time Martha was in an orange juice phase, and very strict about our diets. I know she has had different ways of getting strong or else dieting and health care. She was very strict with us. I looked upon her like a mother in that sense. Once she sent me home to gain ten pounds. And that nearly cracked me up and I did gain and came back strong, but I couldn't keep it up.

GK: What was her orange juice phase?

PH: Well, she would lecture us on what we should eat because most of the girls at that time were from garment workers, Union Square, Fourteenth Street, the really poor intellectual Jewish girls who would starve, literally, to dance. What they used to do-and my husband would get involved in that -- they all posed, not all of them, but the ones I knew posed for artists and earned money that way. Because they only got ten dollars a concert.  

©Museum of Performance + Design

Pauline Henderson
Henderson Audio Clip and Transcript