Interview with Valerie Bettis, 1979
NamesBettis, Valerie, 1919-1982 (Interviewee)Laakso, Wendy (Interviewer)
Dance Oral History Project
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1979-04-02Date Created: 1979-05-10
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZTCO 3-590
TopicsHolm, Hanya, 1893-1992Tamiris, Helen, 1905-1966Boas, Franziska, 1902-1988Bettis, Valerie, 1919-1982 -- InterviewsHanya Holm and Dance CompanyAs I lay dying (Choreographic work : Bettis)Dance in motion pictures, television, etcMusicalsLiterature and dance
NotesAdditional physical form: For transcript of interview see: *MGZMT 3-590.Venue: Interview with Valerie Bettis conducted by Wendy Laakso on April 2 and May 10, 1979, at Bettis's home in New York City, for the Oral History Project of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division.Bibliographic history: Title supplied by cataloger.Source characteristics: Sound quality is good overall.Venue: Recorded for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 1979, April 2 and May 10 New York (New York)Funding: The conservation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Physical DescriptionAudiocassetteExtent: 3 audio cassettes (approximately 2 hr., 52 min.); quarter-track; 1.875 ips
DescriptionStreaming audio file 1 (approximately 46 minutes), April 2, 1979. Valerie Bettis speaks with Wendy Laakso about her early dance training; studying at Hanya Holm's school [Hanya Holm Studio, later the Hanya Holm School of Dance]; her experiences in Hanya Holm's company; her reasons for leaving Holm's company; teaching, including for the Perry-Mansfield school; her early independent works; forming her own company; collaborating with Bernardo Segall; her work The desperate heart; John Cage; her work in television [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio 2].
Streaming audio file 2 (approximately 46 minutes). Valerie Bettis speaks with Wendy Laakso about dance on television; her works As I lay dying; A streetcar named Desire; and The golden round; literature as a source of inspiration; reconstructing works including the problem of dramatic works created for specific dancers; her  work Randall Jarrell's Next day; how she feels about critical reviews; current projects and plans [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 3].
Streaming audio file 3 (approximately 7 minutes). Valerie Bettis continues to speak with Wendy Laakso about her plans including a work based on Dorothy Parker's Big blonde; the possibility of forming an association with a dance company.
Streaming audio file 4 (approximately 47 minutes), May 10, 1979. Valerie Bettis speaks with Wendy Laakso about her early training, with Rowena Smith; moving to New York to continue her training; how she came to study with Hanya Holm and become a member of her company; her experience at the school and company including the expectation that one be creative; the teaching of technique at the school; her reasons for leaving Holm's company; the difficulty of identifying specific influences on her choreography; Franziska Boas as a pivotal figure in Bettis' development; her concerts and work on Broadway shows including Beggar's holiday; her belief that content determines form; Helen Tamiris and the musical revue Inside U.S.A. [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 5].
Streaming audio file 5 (approximately 26 minutes). Valerie Bettis speaks with Wendy Laakso about Helen Tamiris and performing in Inside U.S.A.; more on the importance of content as contrasted with pure movement, in her work; the elements of her most successful works, for example As I lay dying and A streetcar named Desire; the perceived dichotomy between modern dance and ballet, including with respect to herself as a performer and her choreography; her current projects, for theatre-dance works.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 83490393NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118410Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): d93ddc10-c255-0135-e122-197c63f7f461
Rights StatementThe New York Public Library holds or manages the copyright(s) in this item. If you need information about reusing this item, please go to: http://nypl.org/permissions
Item timeline of events