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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

The dancer: [discussion with Barbara Morgan],   pp. 272-[275] PDF (3.8 MB)


Page 274


Spanish. But the Spanish part of his life made
him feel that the Indian side was too sim-
plistic. From both sides there was a certain
amount of hatred, so he was torn. He said
that as he grew up he began to realize the
complexities of life all over the world and that
there is nothing about life that is simple and
"pure." He began to see that there was a
necessary inner logic of acceptance about
these tragedies. He wanted to go beyond
them, into affirmation of life. Just as in
Greek drama you accept sin or tragedy and
you say, "All right, I accept this, but then we
will make a better life emerge from it." This
experience caused him to compose his dance,
MEXICAN SUITE: Indio, Conquistador, Peon,
Revolutionario. He got very much from his
own ancestors. For Indio, his gestures would
involve the union of Sky and Earth, Sun
Father and Earth Mother. Conquistador was
brutal, yet elegant. Peon was excruciating
agony and tension while Revolutionario was
out to protest, militant. Limbn said it was like
therapy for him to reveal these inner agonies.
Then he did these utterly whimsical things
like Cowboy Song, with which I made a photo-
montage because it had so many criss-
crosses and eruptions. I did this in the spirit
of multiplicity because it has so many mean-
ings in it.
Of necessity, I taught my brain to be able to
think on several levels simultaneously. I'd
remember, "yes, I've got to go buy some
cheese"; but at the same time I'd be having
an idea in my "mind's eye" like, "oh, boy,
maybe I can make an interesting composition
if I do so and so." So I could get a creative
concept going and simultaneously remember
to do the chores I was supposed to be doing,
and keep them going in sequence, without
mutual destruction.
There was a further reason for doing this.
Besides photographing dance, I was working
on photo-montage. When you are doing
photo-montage, you are interrelating various
images. You are superimposing them or
integrating them to convey complexities, as
visual metaphor. Well, that's what I was (and
am) doing, literally. I live like a coordinated
photo-montage. It is the opposite of schizo-
phrenia-and it wasn't a fight; it was an
acceptance and harmony.
Peon from Mexican Suite, 1944. Jose Limon,
dancer. Photo by Barbara Morgan.
Advice for Women Artists?
Don't give up, work like hell! If you have chil-
dren as well as a career like I had, I recom-
mend that you work out a system. I worked
out a system which kept me from going crazy,
which I called "The Three Channel System."
FIRST: Responsibility to take care of the
kids; SECOND: my own creativity; THIRD, all
the other stuff, like community work.
When it was either/or, Babies, or Art, my hus-
band was marvelous because he helped so
much. Actually, when they were babies it was
harder. My husband would take care of the
kids at night, and I would go into the dark
room. As the kids got older, we built a house
and designed it as a work place; my husband
had a study; the children had a work place;
and I had a studio-darkroom. We worked out
a plan where we all respected each other's
privacy. They didn't barge in on me, and I
didn't barge in on them (most of the time)!
274


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