In this story, Laura reflects on her connection to modern dance and how it has followed her throughout her life.
Laura: I believe I was four and my mother in a creative movement class that was in the basement of this teacher’s home. She was just magical to me. She—her name was Roslyn Fidel. I have very vivid memories of being in this class at age four and growing like a flower, leaping over rivers, and just the magic of being in the presence of this captivating figure—this dance teacher.
So, it never stopped after that. We moved further out of Long Island, and my mother found another wonderful teacher of modern dance. In my—I guess maybe my junior year—I would start taking the Long Island railroad into the city to take classes at the 92nd Street Y. In my senior, I started dancing with one of these pioneers of modern dance, his name was Charles Weidman, and would be in these performances on Friday nights. And then I became a dance major at Ohio State but didn’t last because I actually became ill with anorexia and left school and then there were different steps to where ended up.
I was in very bad shape and this dance teacher from my teen years called me, and she said that she had heard another of the students in that group was at the University of Wisconsin and she was studying something called dance therapy. And she thought I might be interested in. She had heard I was having a hard time. So, within a week, I was enrolled at NYU in their dance therapy program. And it was such a lifesaver for me because I had been—there was such conflict, such yearning to dance; and I was so depressed and unable to dance; I didn’t have the strength, and it felt so far away—as soon as I walked into that first class of dance therapy I realized—I discovered that I could bring dance back into my life in a way that would also help other people and be really meaningful and meet me where I was at a person and give me this future.
Dance actually didn’t end up becoming my main career. Actually, I got a master’s degree in social work. I managed to through missing dance and feeling that social work was never the appropriate—the best—career for me, I was not one to sit in a chair. I managed to discover a way to continue to dance indirectly through the social work because I was working with elders and discovered there was woman who—Liz Lerman—who had an intergenerational dance company.
I saw a picture of her dancing with these older dancers in this Swan Lake lineup, and I was just captivated. You know, I once wrote something about this question of growing older as a dance. When I—often times—and it used to happen maybe more, I would dream about dance. Actually, I just had a dream where I could do amazing things in my dream. I could fly into the stars. I would take off from the ground and sail and wouldn’t come down—things like that. So, I had written this—it was an article actually for a magazine about growing older as a dancer, and this hope that those images when I closed my eyes and dream, that I would still have that capacity to conjure those. That they would still come to me. Because I think the imaginable life—the dream life—is another life and maybe that would be something that would be a gift in my dying days.