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Dancing By The Century

Ann Hutchinson Visitor celebrates her 103 birthday

by Deborah Jowitt

I’m sitting at a desk miles from New York Metropolis gazing a small, yellow, lined piece of paper and hoping I can decipher my scribbles racing throughout it. The duty? Martialling my reminiscences of a lady I knew, revered, beloved, and was amazed by: Ann Hutchinson Visitor. She handed away in her sleep on Saturday, April 9, 2022 on the age of 103—nearly making it to the anniversary of the November 11th Armistice that ended World Struggle 1. Nonetheless dancing. Loving to take action.

In 2018, her husband, dance historian Ivor Visitor predeceased her, slipping out of their fifty-six years of married life, and one in every of my extra fleeting reminiscences of the pair is the 2 of them, bright-eyed, turning of their seats to speak with me, as I sat behind them on a employed bus that was (I believe) driving guests to websites close to Copenhagen, the place one in every of three Bournonville Festivals was going down. At Ann’s 103rd birthday, three events have been held in her honor—too many individuals to suit into one celebration. And she or he didn’t put the awarded MBE (Most Wonderful Order of the British Empire) after her title.

Ann (and, sure, I known as her that) ought to be named the Queen of Dance Notation, for all of the work she did and all the assistance she gave others who have been wanting to be taught Laban’s system.  She was at Jacob’s Pillow within the summers (1941-1979). With cash that I imagine she accrued when she was dancing in Broadway musicals through the Fifties, she and Ivor purchased a cabin on Goose Pond, the place she was to spend sixty-seven summers, working on the Pillow and having fun with its packages.  To go to her there, you possibly known as her from a pay telephone at a grocery retailer on the freeway earlier than driving alongside a slender winding street in Lee, Massachusetts, parking your automotive excessive above a lake, and ready for Ann to carry the suspended Hill Hiker (whose little compartment may maintain maybe 4 folks) up its ropes to carry you down. I nonetheless bear in mind the outhouse behind the cabin that you simply needed to clamber partway again up that hill to achieve. At Jacob’s Pillow’s Opening Gala in June of 2019, Murray and I, Jennifer Scanlon, and another person (Norton Owen, the Pillow’s Director of Preservation or. . .?) sat collectively at one of many tables within the monumental tent.

However nevertheless many awards she obtained, hoity-toity wasn’t a part of Ann Hutchinson Visitor’s vocabulary, and the way she beloved to bop! In March of 2019, carrying one in every of her many becomingly coloured pantsuits, she graced The Horse’s Mouth, Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham’s model for New York Public Library for the Performing Arts—her steps assured, her rhythm astute. In fact, in her life, she had helpers: private assistants Kellie and Gerry, the person whom she known as gratefully “Chicago Mike”  (Mike Boxser), and a large number of associates. In fact, she sometimes fell and was injured. In fact, she typically lacked power. However the Christmas letters that she despatched through e-mail, illustrated with tiny drawings, current her busy life—travelling worldwide, seeing dances, educating them, notating them, and celebrating merely being alive.

On July 25, 2021, aided by Norton Owen, she carried out at Jacob’s Pillow for a horde of fascinated theatergoers. Effectively ready she! The pianist knew simply the music she wanted.

I’ve connected it right here:

See it and marvel!



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