Sunday, September 27, 2009

dance at Trinity

My sister Kathy, who works at Trinity College, invited me to see a special celebration of 40 years of dance and co-education last night at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. While last night's performance was about the Trinity College Dance program and all the wonderful teachers and students there, when I saw this performance I could not help but remember my own dance teacher of many years, Truda Kaschmann. Below is a treasured photo of her by Peter Crowley that I found on his web site. Seeing this photo of Truda brings me right back to the many classes I took with her and the many improvisations we did. It captures her warmth and strength perfectly. She truly shaped me as an artist.

There is not a lot about Truda that I could find online, but I did come across a few items. This was written by Maggie Roberts, through the Yale National Initiative as a curriculum guide titled, Putting Poetry on it's Feet: "Truda Kaschmann's dance class met for an hour and a half, she devoted the last 20 minutes to different kinds of improvisation. One form of improvisation was dancing to poetry. Mrs. Kaschmann would recite a poem to us, allowing time between lines for us to move about. Each interpretation was correct in her eyes, and so we valued our own interpretations and our self-confidence and creativity grew."

I could not have said this any better than Maggie did: we valued our interpretations and our self confidence and creativity grew. Right-on! This is how I try to teach my mixed media art students now.

Truda was a true modern dance pioneer. Alwin Nikolais was her most famous student, but she was so proud of every one of her students. My sister Kathy took classes with her, and my mother did as well for many years, before we did! I took so many classes from Truda for 25-30 years with my parents encouragement and a lot of driving to and from when I was a youngster! Truda truly brought Modern Dance to the Hartford Conservatory, formerly known as the Hartford School of Music.

It had been a long time since I had seen a dance performance until last night. There was a huge mix of types of dance and styles in Trinity College's '40 Forward' celebration - from performance art -to middle school kids rap -to traditional Indian dancing -to more 'traditional' modern dance, but I so enjoyed being there, catching a bit of that energy, and being reminded of how powerful dance was, and sometimes still is, in my life. It was very exciting to see Clive Thompson accept the Dance pioneer Award last night; he was there at the college with his wife Liz 40 years ago, introducing the dance program on the Trinity campus.

I do not have a photo of me dancing that I can find yet, but I do have one of my mom as a young woman, which is just about the same, as we are so similar. I think she is practicing a dance she will perform, at in her home on Hickory Lane in West Hartford CT, sometime in the early 1950's. Thank you mom & dad, and Kathy for the invite! With gratitude to my family . . .

. . . and i can't resist adding this photo in from 1965 maybe?
Kathy, mom, and me:


  1. Thank you for sharing! It must be so lovely to have something like that to share in the family!

  2. I agree with Renate. How incredible to have a mom who is creative and artistic, what a bond you must have!
    I love to dance myself, but don't do it too often now. In college, I was in a visiting artist program, where we worked with different artists who would visit and we would interact with them, and they with us, each getting involved in the other's art form. Twyla Tharp was one amazing avant garde dancer, as was Arnie Zane, and his companion, but Arnie has since passed. It was a wonderful experience, and I envy the notion that you participated in that for have all artistic bones in your body! That probably explains why you are so acutely in tune with your work.

  3. i remember truda kaschmann.
    she seemed a good mix of stern and gentle- someone
    that her students would do anything for- someone her students loved. judging by your long relationship with her, last nights dance must have sparked some memories in your own ankles. that was so sweet of your sister to take you there. and i'll be damned, you and your mom are like twins....
    "in another times forgotten space,
    your eyes looked from your mothers face."(GD)

  4. Dear Lena,

    I just saw your post about Truda. There was a wonderful article written about her in the Hartford Courant in the late 70's. I have a copy and I would be glad to scan it in for you. I danced with Truda for years. My name is Mark and I can be reached at



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