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Digital Stories

‹‹ Back to Voices | Digital-stories

Protecting the Dancers

Martha Wittman on Liz Lerman as protector
Edited and Produced by Alexis Iammarino and Dorothy Williams
Spring 2011.
Dorothy Williams, Interviewer
Alexis Iammarino, Audio Production

MARTHA: Well, okay (laughs). She’s always so amazing. So what I feel what’s distinctive about her is her brilliance in bringing people together and her ability to listen and I think that’s present all the time in rehearsal or community or wherever we’re working. And she has these times of impatience too but that's never revealed…she has the ability to listen and is very patient in her sense of people and drawing them out. But on a few occasions she’s become very angry and I’m remembering we were in Tucson, Arizona, it was early when I was with Dance Exchange and we were working very hard on a residency and we were staying at a motel out on a road that was also hosting people who deal in gem stones and fossils, and this was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that.

Well, we came back from work one day, dead tired, and I think it was Peter…both Peter DiMuro and Andy Torres were effected by this. First, Peter – his key didn’t work in his room. What happened, it was another room, but all his belongings had been placed exactly where they had been in his original room. So it was very creepy. But they explained, they said something was wrong in the other ––the plumbing or something–– and they had to move him. So that was alright. But the next day, we all complained about that and Liz was upset. The next day, it happened again, and they had moved Andy Torres into another room. And it was the same thing of all the stuff placed to where it had been. And Liz pretty much freaked and I wasn’t present, I got this from Peter––he was with her––that she leapt up on the counter and started yelling at the manager 'that it was unacceptable and that you couldn’t treat any in her group in this way.' She was incredibly protective. There was something else that happened again and they wanted us all to move. What happened–––our rooms were near a patio and we were close together and the gem stone/fossil people who were there longer than we, had all their little, you know, tables where they were selling stuff and they wanted them close to the rooms which were our rooms and they wanted our rooms. So that’s why we were gradually getting moved out. So Liz was furious and I remember – I know I told this – I know we left early in the morning but I was told that we never paid our bill. It was just like we got out of Dodge.