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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.
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.
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: email@example.com or to our mailing address.
July 22, 2012 marks the 111th birthday of Charles Weidman.!!!
Carry On is designed to continue the eductation of historical modern dance, centered around Charles Weidman’s influence and relevance in the dance world today!
The Charles Weidman Dance Foundation has created this blog as a way to continue educating today’s dancers on historical modern dance forms and finding relevance within the generational gap. Within this blog we plan to share stories remembered by Weidman alumni, articles and books about the Weidman legacy, happenings in the dance world today with ties to historical modern dance, retrospectives on the foundation’s past events, and updates on the foundation’s current activities.
For our first post, we’d like to give you a quick history lesson on the Charles Weidman Dance Foundation’s beginnings and catch you up to speed with where we are now!
Before we were the CWDF, we were the Charles Weidman School of Modern Dance, Inc (1968). We have functioned continuously since then dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of Charles Weidman: one of the giants and pioneers of American modern dance. After Mr. Weidman’s death in 1975, the board was initially charged with a great responsibility: maintain Mr. Weidman’s company and school, foster his goals of creating and presenting dances, continue to develope the Weidman dancers, and create interest in modern dance. It was 1990 when the Foundation coined its current name The Charles Weidman Dance Foundation, Inc. and while the company and school no longer exist, the mission and goals of the Foundation remain the same – to reconstruct, present, and preserve the work, principles, and legacy of Charles Weidman.
Check back soon for insight into the last few years of CWDF activities and what we think the future holds for historical modern dance!
Julia J. (Administrative Consultant)