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Tom McNally

From the President, Board of Directors

It is with sadness that I tell you Tom McNally – friend, musician, dancer, teacher, colleague, and member of the Board of Directors died Saturday May 23, 2015.  Tom was 103 years old.

Past Board Members Margaret O'Sullivan and Thomas McNally May 1, 1994 at the Humphrey-Weidman Gala at the Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse. Photo by Larry Hall.

Past Board Members Margaret O’Sullivan and Thomas McNally May 1, 1994 at the Humphrey-Weidman Gala at the Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse. Photo by Larry Hall.

Early on in his life Tom developed a passion for music and dance.  He told us about how as a young man he found his way to the Denishawn compound in the Bronx, but not having the nerve to go in, threw himself on the ground.  Tom became a part of the first generation of American modern dancers to step forward on their own in Bennington, Vermont during the mid-nineteen twenties. He became a studio musician and accompanist for many of the founders of American modern dance, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Jose Limon, and May O’Donnell.  Tom continued as accompanist and performed with the Humphrey-Weidman group in the 1930s including Humphrey’s La Valse.  He told us about going to the Humphrey-Weidman studio on the top floor of a factory building in Manhattan, and once, when he played for one of Martha Graham’s classes, he complimented her on her fine teaching – she took it as an insult and said she was a performer, not a teacher.  Tom was the longest serving member of the Charles Weidman Dance Foundation Board of Directors, and was involved in the production of our award-winning documentary Charles Weidman: On His Own in 1990 and the CWDF’s presentation of our Humphrey-Weidman Gala at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York City in 1994.  He was an avid theatergoer for music and dance and still attended performances into his 100s.  Tom was a great raconteur who loved to tell stories about the early Bennington years and all the luminaries from that period of modern dance in America.  He had a wonderful delivery and style, and during our board meetings he would often have us listening and laughing as he recounted all sorts of anecdotes about those early years.

In recent years Tom taught music at LaGuardia Community College and the Brooklyn School of Music, played organ at Lower East Side Trinity Church, and sung with Collegiate Chorale.  He attended all our productions of performances of Charles Weidman’s work including: Easter Oratorio performed in New York City at the 92nd Street Y Legacy Series in 2010; Brahms Waltzes and Lynchtown performed in 2011 at the 92nd Street Y for the 110th anniversary of Charles Weidman’s birth, the 75th anniversary of Lynchtown, and the 50th anniversary of Brahms Waltzes.  He was a tireless supporter in his dedication to the legacy of Charles Weidman and The Charles Weidman Dance Foundation.  We miss him very much.

Robert Kosinski

The Charles Weidman Dance Foundation, Inc.

The Charles Weidman Dance Foundation would like to invite all who knew Tom to send us your remembrances of him, whether through music and dance or not, which we will post on our website, Facebook page, and blog.  We want to do this to pay tribute to his dedication to Charles Weidman and the Charles Weidman Dance Foundation and to celebrate his long life.  Send your remembrances to: charlesweidman@gmail.com or to our mailing address.


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