~ the incomparable hedy tower ~
performance artist, dancer, teacher and friend.
march 5, 1913 - july 5, 2012
she was like no other. when i met her in 2002 she was 89 years old i was 51. she'd had an illustrious career as a dancer in europe and in the u.s. and had been teaching for 45 years at her studio in jenkintown.
i was a late bloomer....didn't even know i had a body until my late 40's, and only became aware of my body when it began to rebel and i was plagued by severe pain that moved through my body with no mercy.
i believe that our psyche speaks to us through our bodies, so the pain i was experiencing was ME saying "help!". i knew i needed to do something and it was clear that i needed to move, otherwise (i was convinced) that i would end up in a wheel chair. there is a saying.... "when the student is ready the teacher appears" ....looking for a dance teacher in the phone book i found the jenkintown school of dance...right in my neighborhood...so i called to make inquiry.
her voice was confident, she had an accent (german it turned out), and she wanted to know why (at the age of 51) i wanted to dance. she asked "what do want to discover?" my own dance, i answered. "ok fine, come on tuesday night at 7pm"...and that was the beginning. her studio was small, smelled moldy, and was in need of much repair. there were several women, of varying ages getting changed and ready for class. i felt shy and awkward but her students made me feel welcome.
hedy, dressed in a dance leotard, tights and leg warmers was tiny (couldn't have weighed more than 90 lbs) all legs and arms with a short torso and lots of attitude. she opened class with a guided mediation...bringing us into our body and into our selves. and so the class began, 90 minutes starting with traditional ballet floor work and bar work, isolations and progressions, followed by improvisation (this was the part i learned to love). i was hopeless and it felt like torture....i couldn't do anything and i'm sure they (her students) found it amusing to see me try to keep up. i sweated, groaned and strained for weeks, months, years. but i hung in, and built strength and developed technique and learned to love this amazing woman who encouraged me to strive for excellence (as impossible it might be) and trained my body, soul and mind.
hedy was a force of nature....she taught through most of her 98th year. she closed her studio in 2006 and continued teaching at the retirement community in which she lived. she taught three classes a week, two to residents and one to her loyal students, some who had been with her for 40 years. i believe that her commitment to her students is what kept her going. she fell and broke her pelvis when she was 90, and suffered several other falls after that...but each time she returned to teaching, organizing performances and nurturing us. hedy was mor than a dance teacher ..it was life lessons. she gave and gave of herself....right up to the end.
when hedy turned 99 in march of 2012, we had a wonderful party for her...she walked in on her own two feet exactly on time. she word bright red top and she was pleased to see her friends and former students, about 70 of us gathered. we (her students) had planned a surprise performance a flash mob.....as a gift for her. hedy was ecstatic....eventually joining in and dancing with us. she had an amazing full life. she continued to teach until her last breath...showing us how to die with grace and courage. my heart aches, a huge hole gouged out. as my dear friend and classmate jeanne fisher so aptly put it..."hedy was ready, we were not".
....may you dance in heaven.
here is the rest of my week in pictures....
|moo cow & lil lamb|
|fire fly book|
|snacking on strawberries|
|madhava & the carrot|
|rose of sharon|
dinner at my friend jeanne's house. here talented daughter-in-law prepared a raw dinner that was absolutely beautiful and delicious. jeanne is one of hedy's students, so what was to be a dinner party turned out to be a little memorial for hedy.
|raw cacao brownies|
|raw chips & pesto dip|
|our talented & beautiful chef|
|jeanne's partner bob|
uma at alvethorpe...more adventures including the mini putt
here are some delicious pictures of madhava aka baby boy. he's crawling and pulling himself to stand.
talking up a storm and quite the little ham. enjoy.
|will you give me that camera e-ma!|
|ohhhh the hair!|
|here he looks just like his sister|
uma came over on a hot day. tia anjuli got out the hose and we played for hours with the water.
even made a small wading pool out of one of my big mixing bowls. fun.
|so may figs!|
|come on in e-ma the water's fine|
my dear friend jaithra's birthday...we met in pedlar's village. there was a big rain storm so we had to hang out in the gazebo for half hour till it stopped. jaithra teaches bharat natyam dance at my studio and these are some of her friends and students.
|yael & susie|
|did some dancing while waiting for the sun|
|here's jaithra by the water garden|