Max Wyman - Smitten Over DanceWednesday, November 19, 2008
I have written often here about my love for dance. When my daughters were young I took them to every Vancouver appearance of any internationally known dance troupe. I did this because I thought it was my obligation as a father. It has all become a blur and I remember taking them to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. I remember black dancers all dressed in luminous white and the women were dancing with parasols. I remember nothing more. But I do remember waiting in my Fiat on cold rainy evenings outside the Vancouver School of Music on Chestnut Street. I would wait and wait while my daughters dithered and chatted with friends as they changed after their ballet classes with Mr. Lee. Mrs. Lee's method was to only pay attention to those girls who she thought had talent. She ignored the rest. My daughters were ignored and to this day I would say they are ambivalent about dance because of their experience there.
When I met and saw Evelyn Hart dance in the 90s I fell in love with her and with ballet. I soon became so intrested in the discipline that I went to modern dance and just about anything else (except tap which is where I draw the line). I was so smitten by Evelyn Hart that I went to the library in search of books on her. I found one, Evelyn Hart: An Intimate Portrait by Max Wyman. It was not difficult to understand that I was not the only smitten one!
Quite a few years later while chatting with Vancouver Sun staffer Nick Rebalski he told me that Wyman had a collection of ballerina slippers. I immediately called up Wyman and we worked together on a Saturday piece. for the Vancouver Sun.
In the last year I have had some difficulty promoting dance within my own family. Rebecca has the talent and presence but there is not much enthusiasm on the part of some of those close to her to promote it. Rebecca has abandoned dance. My only hope is that she will someday do as Katy Harris-McLeod who decided to be a dancer at 27 and in short order became one of our best and most interesting Vancouver dancers.
I have fond memories of going to Evelyn Hart's dressing room with Rebecca and having Rebecca give Hart a peppermint paddy with the idea that she might gain a bit of weight. In another occasion Rebecca and I went backstage after a Ballet BC performance and Simone Orlando took Rebecca to her dressing room and presented her with a pair of her point shoes.
When I interviewed Wyman a couple of months back at his home in Lions Bay I asked him which was his favourite room. His reply was most interesting:
It’s the bedroom I share with my wife. It’s the place of retreat, the place where I can go to relax. It is the place where I restore myself after the travelings [Bob I can’t confirm this spelling but that’s the word Max used.] of the day. I do my sleeping. It is also the place where I have a lot of things that are important to me. Beside the bed, on Susan’s side, we have a dressmaker’s dummy (that Susan made) wearing Evelyn Hart’s first tutu from her first Giselle. It is a very intimate and wonderful connection with a period of my life. Dance has been so much a part of my life and what I have done and how I have enjoyed myself. The bedroom is full of dance bits and pieces. It is full of the things we like to look at and of the places we have been. I keep whatever books I am reading here. It’s a haven.
How do these two women in your life live together in that room?
Very harmoniously, they are very good friends. Evelyn is beside the bed and Susan is in the bed. Susan recognizes that difference.
At this point Susan, who was nearby during the interview, interjects: I also got the dress for you. It was your birthday. I asked Evelyn for it.