general as told by Bonnie Sue Stein

TRUDY MORSE: April 7, 1919 – August 21, 2013

  BONNIE AND TRUDY060612_004
Trudy and Me, 2012
Dear Sarah, Michael, Mary, Alan, Ilene, Gale, Melvin, and all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the remarkable Gertrude Morse,

I wanted to contribute some words to commemorate your mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Trudy, who was a dear friend and fellow traveler for so many years.  It has taken a few days for me to find something that could really say what is in my heart.  As you know, she was a very special “force of nature”, and you are all fortunate to have had her in your lives.  Sharing her with me and the wide world must  have been a challenge at times, but it might also have been rewarding — hearing all of the vast stories of her travels and meetings along the way.

Trudy, was to me, a mentor, teacher, fellow traveler, surrogate mother, energizer, companion in late night giggling, lover of life, lovely dancer, musician poet extraordinaire, artist and project supporter, lover of peace, life coach and dear friend.  We shared so many wonderful times together – watching performances, attending shules in Prague, visiting historic sites in Estonia and hanging out in New York City, where I live.  Trudy hopped the bus numerous times to New York- where she would attend a performance I produced, or we would go to see something interesting together.  Any time of year – she even came here on New Year’s Eve to see the Klezmatics (a founder, trumpetter Frank London was also a dear friend of hers), and got back on the 2am bus to DC.

I met her in the 1980s in New York. I have been trying to remember exactly when, but cannot find the exact moment.  We shared love for two virtuoso performers Cecil Taylor and Min Tanaka – two extraordinary artists that I worked with as a producer.  We saw them together in New York, at Jacob’s Pillow in Western Massachusettes and other wonderful venues.  Trudy always had wise words of caution and encouragement, and she followed my work around the world, often flying to the location of a project to “help out.”  Her presence was a joy to me and we shared some really crazy and fun times.

One time that I will relate – there are so many – was more recently in Prague  in 2006, when she visited me there.  We went together to watch Min Tanaka dance into the chilly Vltava River.  (I covered the event for Dance Magazine)  One year earlier, Prague had been inundated with a terrible flood.  Trudy and I sat on the banks of the river as Min entered the cold water, keeping ourselves warm in the chilly autumn sunshine.  Min’s dance was commemorating one year after the great Prague flood – and the reopening of Archa Theater, where he danced annually. (invited by Ondrej Hrab, producer)

Trudy always thought of the best way to support  an artist on the road.  In this case, she happened to have an instant ramen CUP NOODLE with her, the perfect food for warming up.  She handed it to Min after he came out of the water and was drying off on the shore.  It was such a brilliant cultural idea – and the exact food he needed to regain his body temperature afterwards.  Min was very moved and pleased with her gift – an inexpensive but rich and smart gesture.

Another time, in summer of 2001, we were in Tallinn, Estonia, and the presenter who I was working with (Priit Raud of AugustTants Festival), organized for Trudy to stay at the ornate and exclusive presidential hotel, not an easy thing to do. The day after checking in, she left the palacial abode and moved herself into the Youth Hostel located in the center of Tallinn, declaring the Presidential hotel to be too fancy and “too far from the action.”  Although Priit was surprised by her move, we quickly understood what she wanted and what she needed.  She did not want to be far from where we were holding daily rehearsals, which she loved to attend and wanted to leave for a nap if she needed and return later in the day.  She always gave me feedback about my production work, and kept me going strong.  I loved her for that.  We used to laugh so hard in the wee hours of the night on the internet together — me in NY and she in Maryland — telling each other stories that made me fall off my chair.

So many memories.  I would need a book, and after reading the memories of so many others who were touched by her, it is clear that a book of memories already exists.

TRUDY MORSE (Moma Gila)  , April 7, 1919 – August  21, 2013

May her memory be blessed for all time.Forever on my heart.

With love and care,Bonnie Sue Stein, Executive Director and Producer, GOH Productions/New York City

 

Beate Gordon (Oct 25, 1923-Dec. 30, 2012)

The world class impresario, Beate Gordon died peacefully in her sleep, December 30, 2012.  She was 89 years old.

I worked for Beate from 1982 to 1988, at the Asia Society’s Performing Arts department in New York City.  Six incredible years that carved my life path.  As an impresario, she was schooled in politeness, always putting the artist first and as her assistants we learned the old ways of producing.  None of us had degrees in Arts Administration, we learned on the job.  There was a stellar team during the 80s that included some powerful, creative women: Paula Lawrence, Karen Haight, Marie Stella, Lisa Chan, Lynn Winters and one amazing guy, Somi Roy.  She was like a mother to me, more than a mentor.  We never got any work done, because her stories captivated us and distracted us from the tasks at hand.  So we stayed late often, working on deadlines for press releases and promotion.

In 1985 our Performing Arts Department won an Obie Award, a Special Citation for sustained achievement presenting performing arts programs from Asia, including that year’s triumphant tour of the spectacular dancing drummers from Korea, Samul-Nori.  Beate, or BG as we sometimes called her, was unlike any other cultural leader, and a dying breed. She spoke several languages fluently, was schooled in the proper etiquette of all the countries she traveled and was a fearless leader, championing artists and education about Asian performing arts through visceral experience.  Every performance we presented had a pre-performance lecture/demonstration and a tasty tidbit from that culture’s food group.

Audiences loved these presentations.  Finding samosa, dumplings or other tidbits was one of my jobs, as her assistant – a job I did with relish, literally.  I also had to find scholars and experts to write about the performing arts we were presenting, as BG –knowing that the press community were not well versed in these art forms–  insisted that each press release be accompanied by a monograph. So many firsts happened under her tutelage – traditional groups from Asia toured the USA including the first touring group from the People’s Republic of China, the premiere tour of dancers and musicians from the Silk Route (Uzkekistan, Mongolia, etc), Kathakali dance drama from South India, Samul-nori drummers from Korea…  And contemporary groups – puppet troupe Kaze-no ko from Japan, butoh master, Kazuo Ohno, and our own US based Eiko and Koma – and more.  A list would take up all of the space allotted for this brief highlight of a life well lived.

“Would you be so kind”…was how BG began nearly every request.  It was a sure way to get us to do anything that needed to be done.  I learned that type of politeness could open doors and motivate action.  Beate was like a mother to me, to all of us.  She led the crew and we followed happily and diligently, supporting the groups of artists that traveled from all corners of Asia to New York City and around the country.

Paula Lawence, Beate Gordon, Bonnie Stein, Eiko and Koma 2010 photo by John Gillespie
Paula Lawence, Beate Gordon, Bonnie Stein, Eiko and Koma 2010 photo by John Gillespie
Beate was also responsible for helping to formulate an amendment of Japan’s postwar constitution which outlined Women’s Rights for the first time in that country —  a global achievement that was echoed in her book THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM.  These rights were something she felt strongly about and what she talked about most and leaves as part of her expansive legacy.  She was well aware that the current conservative government in Japan threatened preservation of these rights, and after a hiatus of several years, became vocal about the new initiatives to keep these rights safe.  A lot of her life was dedicated to equality of these rights.  More articles will be coming out in the next few days, so keep your eyes open.  She touched so many lives worldwide.  RIP dear friend and mentor.
photo: Paula Lawrence, Beate Gordon, Bonnie Stein, Eiko and Koma, 2010 by John Gillespie

GOH Board Meeting today in NYC!

Welcome to Sherry Erskine, Marika Blossfeldt, Don Trammel, members of GOH Board of Directors, and to Advisor Steve Boss.
Welcome to the new members, Roberta Levine and Farzad Mahootian.

Our first meeting since the Avenue C Studio opened will happen today, March 5.

I am excited to welcome everyone from out of town (Sherry and Roberta) and to the in-town members and new faces. Thanks for coming on board.

with love and care,

Bonnie

R.I.P. Ellen Stewart, Mama of La MaMa

R.I.P. ELLEN STEWART. Our MaMa of La MaMa. Everyone has a story about Ellen. I met her first in 1975 or so, when I was visiting New York as a budding performer and choreographer. We met numerous times since then. I would catch her as she walked her dog, since I was just around the corner. If you wanted to talk to her, you had to do that. Meet her “by chance” in the morning dog walk time slot, and approach her for a gig, an idea, a festival, a chat, a kiss, a hug. Whatever it took. We fought. Everyone fought with her. We had one big one in 1989, but I went back. I brought projects from various corners of the world to Ellen. Between Ellen Stewart and Beate Gordon (who became my “real” boss at Asia Society in 1982), I had two Mamas, who I wanted to be like when I grew up. I now feel obligated even more than ever, to continue to work, across borders and across so-called enemy lines. Ellen, your spirit will continue to move me forever. I am blessed to have known you and learned from you.

here is the obit from Time Out NY today:

Ellen Stewart, who died this morning at the age of 91, was a force of culture. When she founded La MaMa back in 1961, Off-Off Broadway theater was in its infancy; in the 50 years since, she has been a vital agent in its growth and expansion, and up until just a few years ago she could still be seen regularly at her East Village drama center. A lifelong internationalist, Stewart helped introduce America to the work of Jerzy Grotowski and his Eastern European contemporaries in the 1960s, and La MaMa’s archives are like a geological cross-section of theater innovation. Adrienne Kennedy, Israel Horovitz, Tom O’Horgan, Andrei Serban, Charles Ludlam, Elizabeth Swados, Mac Wellman, Ping Chong, John Kelly, Robert Patrick, Julie Bovasso, Taylor Mac, the Talking Band and Mabou Mines are just a few of the countless artists she helped wean in her peerless career. Stewart racked up many awards, including Japan’s Praemium Imperiale and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, but her greatest honor lay and lies in the incalculable influence of her passion. Off-Off Broadway has lost its mother, but her legacy is everywhere to be found.

Kazuo Ohno

Kazuo OhnoJune 1, 2010. Kazuo Ohno, pioneer of dance in Japan. grandfather of butoh and good friend died at 3am on June 1 in Japan. I remember him fondly and with reverance. He was the embodiment of dance, death, life, grace and horror. We will all miss him.

I met Kazuo Ohno back in 1979… I have seen him move, heard him speak, wrote about his work and life, and more vital than that, have been honored to eat his incredible cooking. Dancing is (was) his life. There is no question that he lived to dance, and danced to live. A while ago, a collection of his words, and the words of his son, Yoshito, was published by Wesleyan press. When that happened, I declared that the so-called critics and experts (like me) can finally rest. Kazuo OhnoWe were given the gift of Ohno’s words in a stellar translation that has been inspirational. I had a glimpse of spiritual power in Ohno’s dance. I was empowered by his benevolence and his cruelty, by his passion and his grace. Each time I watched him dance I thought it was the last. We all thought it was the last. This is the secret we shared with him. It was ALWAYS the last time. with love and sending his spirit to the bodies of dancers everywhere.

–Bonnie Sue Stein

photo by Eiko Hosoe