Finally, an amateur effort at pulling all Harkness alums together. Facebook has been great as far as connecting us, and this blog will, hopefully, provide a place for all of us to tell our stories of about the past 40 years! I’m Michele Morgan and was a Harkness trainee in 1970, then was in the company from 71 to 73. It is a joy to reconnect with old friends.
If you wish to contact me personally, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, most importantly, Milton Oleaga has made a “Harkness Ballet Book”, spiral bound. Unfortunately, Milton, in his last years, no longer printed, only put together books of photos remaining after his generous donation of many dance photos and companies to the Library of Performing Arts. Milton passed on July 31, 2013.
I started this blog as the result of a Harkness Ballet alums’ reunion a couple of years ago (which I could not attend). Pat Machette Tuzer of Tuzer Ballet in Houston(?) and her husband, Tanju Tuzer, had both been in Harkness in the early 70s, and they sponsored the reunion. So this put us all in touch with each other after awhile, if only by e-mail. So the primary impetus for making this was to show my old dance buddies a spiral-bound book of Harkness performing when I was there.
The photos, as you read in “About” are primarily Milton’s. We reestablished our friendship in about 1990, and since then until his death, he sent me book after book after book. In his early 80s, he lived for this: to make prints of the thousands of negatives he accumulated over 3 decades of hanging out with the gypsies at Luigi’s Jazz class; sneaking his camera into every major NYC company. Not to mention a series of negatives of thousands of headshots of just the casual everyday dancer. And a series of NYC Street photos, where he hid his camera or held it forward as he looked sideways . . . thousands of shots . . . all from the 60s and 70s.
He took both Martha Graham classes and Luigi classes and New York City Ballet, always with his camera and equipment ready to go. But ordinarily, for the folk in the 70s NYC dance world, most of us know each other . . . especially because he gave me a Harkness book with all these photos. I think he sneaked into The Purple Cow, where we were performing in Sarasota, Florida. Remember, we all haven’t communicated in 40 years. I have no idea what kind of a story to tell. How do you describe the ineffable? Well actually, Milton did describe the ineffable, because with each book, he recorded as much commentary about each photo in each book, which sometimes led him into great storytelling. Some are cassette tapes; some are CD-Rs. I’ve always thought of transcribing them, scanning the photos and making books for him, yet I’m none too far with that. A picture’s worth a thousand words. He recently gave me 3 more books: one of Martha Graham; one of Luigi; and one of New York City Ballet. I will try to get the CDs uploaded as he tells the story of each photo . . . straight from the horse’s mouth, for you all to hear.
Before Milton died a few days short of his 84th birthday, he trekked up and down to and from his 4th flr. apt in NYC on 22nd St., west side. He spents his days making spiral bound books of various subjects: the visual experiences of day-fishing boats; headshots of just about every dancer/actor/gypsy from the 60s on; stacks of books on years of photographing Luigi’s jazz classes in various studios, and on and on with every major dance company in NYC . . . not to mention the thousands of books from the Strand that have been his love for his entire life.
As I said, Milton donated a truckload of prints and negatives of Martha Graham, Jose Limon, New York City Ballet, etc. to the Library of Performing Arts. He wanted his work to be preserved somehow . . . it’s been his whole life. If anyone knows of a museum or curator in any other institution interested in his work, please tell them he is simply wanted them to be preserved and appreciated, and would be willing to donate entire collections.
Also, he was my best buddy . . .