Michael Limoli: “Are you the dancer that I knew as Michele Morgan?”
mickey morgan: “OUI! Yes. I am the michele morgan who was a trainee just like you. Don’t forget Renita Exter or Maria Vegh (online!), Raimondo Fornoni, Vickie Garlitz, Ray Bussey, Ali Pourfarrokh, Pat Machette (who later married Tanju Tuzer), Zane Wilson, Roberto Medina, Jeannette Vondersaar, Mindy Gars, Janice Stenger (where is she?), et.al.
Trudi Hirsch and I were roommates right before I ran away from Harkness with a shirtless gorgeous Frisbee player by day and Central Park resident at night.
Remember Luigi Jazz classes? He recently had a stroke but insists on coming to the studio in his wheelchair at 85(?), and teaching. Remember Milton Oleaga, always in the background at Luigi’s taking photos, dancing a bit, taking a few more shots?
I guess we have a history together, my friend. A toast to the return of yet another member of the Harkness tribe!”
Michael Limoli: “I was a student of Edward Caton who sent me to Harkness in 1970. Mrs. Harkness saw me, made me a trainee and put me in a ballet she was creating. I was always torn between ballet and music. While at Harkness I received a sizable financial package to attend college where I could do both, so I accepted it. While at Harkness, I had many wonderful teachers, David Howard and Maria Vegh being prominent. I was always proud walking in the front door of Harkness House and missed it and the dancers quite a bit when I left. I was there with Michele Morgan, Tom Fowler, Susan McKee, Trudi Hirsch . . . it was a great time in my life, no matter how brief.
During my first “audition” [in] David Howard’s class, I was shaking in my boots, partially because I loved the Harkness Ballet Company so much. After the class, David took me into his office and in his usual dry, quixotic tone of voice said to me, “Well, you are definitely IN. Mrs. Harkness saw you in class and instructed us to give you a contract. You are now a Harkness Trainee.”
As to Luigi’s classes, I not only looked forward to watching him demonstrate, but for me it was learning a new way of moving. Also, I loved the fact that we were allowed to wear COLORED practice clothes.
Here are a few of my Harkness memories:
In one of my early-on classes, Helen Greenford said to me, “Michael you are such a musical dancer. Would you please demonstrate that combination for the class?”
After one class, I went to Raymond Wilson [accompanist] and told him how much I had enjoyed one of the opera arias he had played that day.
In disbelief, he asked me how I knew that piece. When he learned that I was a clarinetist, he asked me to bring my clarinet to Harkness, which I did. We had fun playing duets.
At a later date, Marjory asked me to play the piano for her class. Both of these Harkness pianists showed great interest in my musical abilities and encouraged me to continue music along with dance.
This may sound corny, but I always felt like I was playing an instrument while I was dancing, and dancing while I was playing a musical instrument. I was once invited to play the piano for a master class being taught by Darci Kistler. We didn’t know each other, but at one point she stopped, and said to the class, “How can you not know the combination? This pianist is giving you every step in his playing.”
After hearing me play, Peter Fonseca (at that time in ABT) asked me to perform a piece on the clarinet with him dancing to his own choreography. (I had met Peter through David Howard.) Peter was a great dancer, a wonderful person and a terrific friend.
After I “officially” stopped dancing and I was performing as a solo clarinetist in various concert spaces around NYC and including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, I continued taking ballet class with David Howard. I also played piano for ABT, Joffrey and Richard Thomas (where I had first met Janek Schergen.)
Later in my dance/music career, I was invited to accompany classes at Kaatsbaan. One of the teachers was Bonnie Mathis, a Harkness Ballet alum.
Co-incidentally, at the same time I left Harkness to go to Indiana University, another alum from the Harkness Ballet, Cheryl Clark, came to the same school and we performed in ballets together as a pas-de-deux couple.
At Harkness I was a big fan of Edmond La Fosse. After Harkness days, owing to the spelling of our last names, we used to re-unite in the NY Unemployment line Later, I was pianist for classes at NYSSSA taught by is brother, Robby La Fosse.
At Harkness, I took class from Elizabeth Carroll. Little did I know that some 20 years later, my wife (Denise Warner from ABT) would become her successor on the ballet faculty of Skidmore College.
I was pianist for classes taught at North Carolina School of the Arts by Susan McKee McCullough, a contemporary Harkness Trainee.
I later performed as dancer and accompanist at Skidmore College for Mary di Santo, another Harkness colleague. I accompanied classes at Adelphi Unversity for Jan Kriechman, a former Harkness Trainee, a little after my time.
Mrs. Harkness was always kind and friendly. After I left Harkness, she sent me a sweet letter of support, wishing me well on my career in music.
[For an extensive list of dance/clarinetist/accompanist reviews and more photos about Michael Limoli, click his name from the column to the right]