It was an enviable position. O'Donnell, a leader in early modern dance, had been a student of the influential Hanya Holm and later danced with Martha Graham and José Limón. In 1949, Holm started her own company, where Walker rose from beginner to principal dancer.
Walker recounts the early days of his career--and what happened after his New York days--this Friday in a lecture in the UA's old Ina Gittings Dance Theatre, titled Life After Leaving the City--Dance in America and Beyond. His talk is the last in a three-part series of dance history lectures at the UA called Dancing On: Expanding the City Limits, about dance outside New York. The talks also focus on what dancers do when their own dancing days are done. Previous speakers were Amanda McKerrow, an American Ballet Theatre dancer who guest-artists around the world and is teaching in Tucson this summer at the Ballet Arts workshop, and Lawrence Pech, an ABT dancer who now runs his own eponymous company in San Francisco.
After his glory days dancing with O'Donnell, Walker also went into guest performing, dancing with the Pearl Lang Dance Company, Yuriko & Dancers, the Boston Ballet and a Portuguese troupe called Gulbenkian Dance Company. He has also choreographed some 210 dances, in styles from classical to modern, and directed the school at Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts.
A Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the New Zealand School of Dance and at numerous universities in the United States. Most recently, he's been teaching at Butler University, choreographing for the Butler Ballet and working with Dance Kaleidoscope in Indianapolis.
Life After Leaving the City--Dance in America and Beyond, a lecture by Norman Walker, will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 18 at the UA Gittings Dance Theatre, Room 130. Admission is free. For more information, call 621-4698.