Thursday, April 4, 2013


He used to live in the building that is next door to ours.

His limo was often parked directly in front of our building.

Golly, the shows Tommy Tune directed -- this guy could really put a hit together. The list is amazing; the awards he got are amazing; the way he's done what he wanted to do with no clear career pattern tells me that this man hasn't been seeking money, or fame, or notoriety.

That's why I want to write about him. This man takes on a job that interests him, and brings to it all the talents he has -- the visual artist, painter, costume creator, set designer, casting agent, as well as the dancer, choreographer, director. Top billing, I think, goes to the dancer aspects of this guy. He was one, is one, and everything he does right now continues to have what I call the dancer mentality. (Yes, it takes one to know one.)

Tommy sees patterns; he knows physicality, and the joy of expressing himself in movement. He can really move -- bet I could teach him the dance that I do every day -- the steps are simple, but performing them is not simple.

It's revisiting -- ala Stanislavsky, (method acting) -- a room. Seeing it, noting everything -- ceiling, walls, outlets, and cracks on the walls, furniture, floor, marks on the floor -- discovering everything freshly. Mostly, a dancer doesn't discover freshly. The dancer locks in a movement by repeating it, practicing it's like a conditioned reflex. Only a real dancer, though it's locked in as a reflex, creates the movement as he dances -- performs it, as if it has never been done before.

Is Tommy Tune my favorite male dancer? No, but he's my favorite creator in the field of movement for the stage. Oh my -- how young he is, despite the fact that he's in his early seventies now, and 6'6." Surely he has knees, back, hip areas that are worn down, and plenty of aches and pains.

I have to confess, I especially like the fact that he came to my show when crowds were coming (I was temporarily chic when my dance-drama "Zinnia" was being performed on weekends at the Colonnades Theater (across from Joe Papp's huge building). Tune told a lot of people that "Zinnia," my dancing brought tears to his eyes.

My husband, John Cullum co-directed this dance-drama. The music was Mahler's Tenth Symphony. Carole Mayo Jenkins played the speaking character. I was "Zinnia," the child dream aspect of the actressThe truth is, I wear Tommy Tune's praise -- that sentence he said -- like an orchid, pinned to my blouse.

Here's Tommy Tune, talking, singing, dancing around the way he's been doing all of his life, telling his own story.

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