Modern-dance greats recognized with Martha Hill awards

carolyn adams, stuart hodes, nov 29, 2019

As the Hollywood award season advances, the dance world, too, honors its luminaries, last November 29 granting Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Awards to a trio of greats, each a member of the second and third generation of American modern dance. These leading lights include: Carolyn Adams, the sparkling, inimitable lead dancer of Paul Taylor Dance Company; Stuart Hodes, who partnered Martha Graham in iconic choreographies; and Betty Jones, an original member of Jose Limon Dance Company.

betty jone, the moor’s pavane

Betty Jones, a sixty-year dance professional renowned as a Principal and founding member of the José Limón Dance Company received singular acclaim in her role as “Desdemona” in Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane. Born in Meadville, PA, Jones entered the dance world as a scholarship student at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and was tutored by Alicia Markova and Ted Shawn. In New York, studying dance and singing, she was engaged as a captain in the US Armed Forces, where she served throughout the Pacific during WWII as a USO dancer/singer in Agnes de Mille’s Oklahoma. In 1947 Jones joined the original José Limón Dance Company as a founding member, and for twenty-three years helped create legacy roles in the Limón/Humphrey repertory. Between 1954 and 1963, as a principal dancer with the company, and under the aegis of the US State Department, she represented the US on four international tours to Europe, Yugoslavia, Poland, South America, Australia and the Far East. She assisted Jose Limón in cultural projects at Mexico City’s Academia de Bellas Artes. When the American Dance Theatre at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater created the nation’s first major Contemporary Repertory Dance Theater, Jones was invited to join as a principal dancer. As an educator Jones trained the next generations of talent at The Juilliard School. For four decades she taught at the American Dance Festival and its global Linkage Program in Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia and Russia.

stuart hodes, appalachian spring

Stuart Hodes (born 1924) is an American dancer, choreographer, dance  teacher, dance administrator and author. A WWII veteran, he served in the Army Air Corps. He was Martha Graham’s partner, danced on Broadway, in TV, film, in recitals, and with his own troupe. His choreography has appeared on the Boston Ballet, Dallas Ballet, Harkness Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and other troupes. He taught at the Martha Graham School, Neighborhood Playhouse, NYC High School of Performing Arts, headed dance at NYU School of the Arts and Borough of Manhattan Community College. He was Dance Associate for the NY State Council on the Arts, dance panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, president of the National Association of Schools of Dance, and a member of the First American Dance Study Team to China in 1980, returning in 1992 to teach the Guangzhou modern dance troupe. He is the author of Part Dream-Part Real: Dancing with Martha Graham.

ed. note: It was my privilege and very great honor to interview Stuart Hodes for my in-progress biography of the choreographer Jack Cole. Hodes shared warm memories of working with Cole on two Broadway projects: Kismet, which featured Cole’s thorniest version of Hindu-Jazz, and The Ziegfeld Follies of 1956, which despite closing out of town spawned marvelous Stuart Hodes stories.

Carolyn Adams, 1979, photo; jack mitchell

Carolyn Adams was born in New York City and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965, with a master’s of social work in 2006 from  Fordham University.  She spent her college junior year in France, studying at the  Sorbonne and at La Schola Contorum where she joined Les Ballets Contemporains, directed by Karin Waehner, a student of Mary Wigman. Joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1965, she created roles in such Taylor masterpieces as Esplanade, Airs, Cloven Kingdom and Big Bertha, over a 17 year tenure. No one who witnessed Carolyn Adams’ indelible performances in Taylor’s classic Aureole, will ever forget them.

After leaving the Taylor stage in 1982, Carolyn remained close to Mr. Taylor, his company and school.  That same year, she was invited by Martha Hill to join the faculty at the Juilliard School where she taught Taylor technique and repertory for 26 years. 

Her distinguished dance career included founding the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Dance, a summer intensive for teens from New York State, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. As an educator and advocate for the field, she served on the Board of Dance/USA, chairing its National Task Force on Dance Education. She has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and served on the Boards of Sarah Lawrence College, Dance Theater Workshop, Parsons Dance and currently, the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation. She was a founding member of the Martha Hill Foundation. In 1998 She and her sister, Julie created the American Dance Legacy Initiative (ADLI) to develop programs such as the Repertory Etudes Project and produce documentaries on Donald McKayle, Mary Anthony, Daniel Nagrin, Anna Sokolow, Sophie Maslow and Jean Leon Destine. 

Martha Hill Mid-Career Awards were given to Sean Curran and to Nigel Campbell & Chanel DaSilva at the event, which took place on November 29, 2019, at the Manhattan Penthouse. Emcee for the evening was Madeleine Nichols, and awards presenters were Robert Battle, Naomi Goldberg Haas, Norton Owen, Risa Steinberg, and Lois Welk.

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