Carol Nolte, Choreographer/
Artistic Director, WestFest

Resident at Westbeth since 1989

How We Entered Westbeth

I had been coming to Westbeth to study with Merce Cunningham since the early seventies. I was raising my two girls in a plum cheap carriage house in Alpine, New Jersey, on a huge estate. I had recently completed a dance degree program at the New School, while operating my small modern company with gigs all over New Jersey and the East Coast. I had a workshop with Merce at the Studio and was smitten with both Merce and the Studio. I wanted to put our name on the admissions list for Westbeth, but my family would have none of it. Fast-forward five years, and I had lost my home and my dance company partner. I had no money, and the girls’ father sent them off to school.

I came to the city overwhelmed by the stress―and no money. I sublet all over town―the Upper West Side, SoHo―living in a dance loft with a tent in the middle, in Spalding Gray’s beautiful place for a couple of years, and finally in a miserable tiny walk-up on Charles Street. And I was trying to accommodate my kids and my dog in all of them. Of course, at that point, in the mid-eighties, I submitted my application to Westbeth. All this happened over four or five years while things were getting worse and worse for us.

Charles Street is close by, and I was becoming more and more desperate and more and more broke (in spite of a wide variety of day jobs, from which I kept getting fired). I would stop by the Westbeth office several times a week and beg. No soap. Then there was a fire in the office. It was pre-computer days, and phones and files were destroyed. Joanne and Randy soon threw up their hands. They could not find anything or anyone in the mess―no lists, no phone numbers. My girls, my dog, and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment at Westbeth, with built-in rooms and loft beds, on the fifth floor overlooking the courtyard. I kissed the floor. It was 1989.

SHARE:Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on Pinterest