The first time I worked with Glen Tetley was at Jacob’s Pillow in 1962. I stage-managed his work called “Birds of Sorrow.” It was performed by Glen Tetley, Linda Hodes and Robert Powell. Glen had a gift of combining modern dance and ballet into a seamless mix. I think of him as the Prometheus of Dance. His performing career was very diverse. He danced in Hanya Holm’s Broadway production of “ Kiss Me Kate” in 1948 and “Juno” in 1959. He then performed with New York City Opera Ballet, John Butler’s American Dance Theater, as an original member of Joffrey Ballet, and then later on with American Ballet Theater and Jerome Robbins Ballet USA. He credits Hanya Holm and Martha Graham as his modern dance teachers and Antony Tudor and Margaret Craske as his ballet mentors. He was a dream to work with; an intelligent, well-read, elegant person with a beautiful life-style. We toured the US by station-wagon then. Each time we stopped, upon our arrival at the hotel, we would clean up and go to a nice dinner in whatever town or city we happened to be in. Glen, who travelled with his two dachshunds, Fratello and Tartuffo, would leave them waiting in front of a television set.
In 1969, Glen invited me to his Village apartment, which was filled with Russian Icons from his time touring with ABT. He wanted me to stage-manage and execute a lighting design for his upcoming tour, which had scenic elements that had to be built to fit on a tour bus. Luckily, I knew a scenic designer, whom I had worked with at Dallas Civic Opera previously. He did the shop drawing for Nadine Baylis’ design for “Circles” and “Ziggurat.” This tour also included Rouben Ter-Arutunian sets for “Pierrot Lunaire”, which were a series of pipes that created Pierrot’s tower home, as well as a “Ricercare” set that looked like a giant half shell, on which a couple danced. I made a deal with Glen that he and Scott Douglas (his partner of 40 years and ballet star of ABT) would be responsible for the Pierrot set, a complex bunch of pipes, which had to be built each time to make a tower. They always argued when putting this tower together but it always got constructed. “Embrace Tiger” had a mylar floor and silk panels, from which the dancers magically emerged to do a dance form of Tai-Chi. The dancers were to be responsible for the care of their own costumes in the pieces they performed in. We were to travel with no crew. We made these decisions over drinks. I remember thinking, do I really know what I had just agreed to?
Glen Tetley Dance Company, USA Tour.
March 16-May 11, 1969.
Stage Manager: Maxine Glorsky
Lighting Designer: Gilbert Helmsley (teaching with Gilbert Helmsley, Illinois State University.)
Repertory: “Pierrot Lunaire”, “Ziggurat”, “Circles”, “The Mythical Hunters”,” Ricercare,” “Embrace Tiger & Return to Mountain.”
Dancers: Glen Tetley, Carmen DeLavallade, Scott Douglas, Erin Martin, Lynne Kothera, Mary Jane Eisenberg, Mari Kajiwara, Michele McKnight, Juan Antonio, Roger Briant, Mario Delamo, Wesley Fata, George Ramos
St. Paul, MN
Illinois State University, Normal, IL
University of Wisconsin, Menasha, WI
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Rhode Island College, RI
Queens College, NY
When we toured, I always imagined Scott Douglas as the black clown and Tetley as the Pierrot in real life. At times, Glen would get discouraged with the audience response at these venues, and I would always tell him that, “The work was too good for this kind of audience”. At that period of time, modern dance choreographers like John Butler (who Tetley had an early relationship with), Glen Tetley, and Merce Cunningham were more appreciated in Europe than in the United States.
Glen Tetley Dance Company, City Center, New York. May 12-18, 1969.
Production Stage Manager: Maxine Glorsky
Lighting Designer: Gilbert V. Hemsley Jr.
Sets: Nadine Baylis and Rouben Ter-Arutunian
Repertory: “Pierrot Lunaire” (1968), “Ziggurat (NY Premiere)”, “Circles” (1968), “The Mythical Hunters” (1965), “Ricercare” (1966), “Embrace Tiger & Return to Mountain” (1968)
Dancers : Glen Tetley, Carmen De Lavallade, Scott Douglas, Erin Martin, Lynne Kothera, Mary Jane Eisenberg, Mari Kajiwara, Michele McKnight, Juan Antonio, Roger Briant, Mario Delamo, Wesley Fata, George Ramos
Orchestra Conductor: John Perras
Soprano: Barbara Conrad Smith
Glen Tetley Dance Company European Tour: Denmark, France, Germany, Yugoslavia. May 20-July 31
Stage Manager: Maxine Glorsky
Repertory: “Embrace Tiger & Return to Mountain”, “Circles”, “Mythical Hunters”, “Ziggurat”, “Ricercare”, “Pierrot Lunaire”
May 21-25: Copenhagen, Demark; Det Kongeliege Teater
May 25 – June 1: Paris, France; Odeon Theater
June 1-4: Weisbaden, Germany; Hessisches Staatstheater
June 4-8: Berlin, Germany; Akademie der Künste
June 8-16: Rennes, France; Maison de la Culture
June 16-20: Copenhagen, Denmark; Danish Television
Bus Tour in former Yugoslavia in 1969. We played mostly outdoor theaters. This was possibly the most unusual tour for me as it was most primitive in a technical sense. There was little lighting to speak of, so you were grateful for what you got. On one memorable occasion, we loaded in by burro into a mountain top theater. When we arrived at the location, a salaami-eating stage hand offered us cracked lens fresnels for lighting. One adventurous dancer was flirting with these mountain stage hands. I said to her: “If we leave you here, I am sure, you will never be heard from again.”
Sabotica performance July 15
Zagreb performance July 16
Lubjana performance July 17
Sarajevo performance July 20 (indoor theater)
Budva performance July 23
Hergeg Novi performance July 24
(open Bazaar between apartment buildings)
Split performance July 25
Dubrovnik performances July 26, 27, 28, 29
The venue in Dubrovnik was a beautiful outdoor theater on top of a castle mountain overlooking the Adriatic Sea. It was mostly lit by the moon. After their long careers as dancers, Glen and Scott
hung up their dancing shoes, poetically retiring in the most romantic of places.
After Glen learned that he only had two performance dates in the US for the coming year 1970, he asked me to send all his scenic elements to Holland. He had enough of America. Tetley moved to Europe and became the Artistic Director for the Netherlands Dance Theater in 1969 and then the Stuttgart Ballet from 1974 until 1976. While in Europe, Canada, Israel, Tetley choreographed over 50 ballets for some of the world’s most famous dance companies. His legacy has taught the dance community that in order to become a “today’s dancer,” a dancer needs to train in both modern and ballet equally.
Glen moved back to the United States eventually. He even gave up his beautiful tower home in Spoleto Italy. His last partner was from an old world Italian family. On one occasion, I went to dinner at their uptown apartment overlooking the East River and the United Nations Gardens. It was a huge place filled with art-work and artifacts from both men’s formidable lives.
In 2007, Glen was to revisit and be paid homage to by all the companies he created works for, but as fate would have it, he passed away. Sadly, this became a memorial tour instead: American Ballet Theatre, England’s Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Australian Ballet, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel, Stuttgart Ballet, Deutsche Oper Am Rhein, the English National Ballet, the Norwegian National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet and Italy’s Aterballetto. He did his last choreography, “Lux in Tenebris,” for the Houston Ballet in 1999.
Glen was a dear person and I will always be grateful for his friendship and the experience of working with him. At the Party for Max in 2000, he spoke so kindly of our relationship, citing that I supported him early in his career. He ended his speech with a quote from an American Ute Indian saying: ”Do not walk behind me I may not lead you, do not walk in front of me I may not follow you, but walk beside me so that we may be one.”