A Novel by Stuart Hodes
Introduction by Richard Move
In Part Real,Part Dream, Stuart Hodes gives readers an intensely personal account of his long and acclaimed life as a professional dancer with some of the legends of modern dance. The story of his complex relationship with Martha Graham, with whom he danced with for more than a decade, offers a fascinating backstage seat to the dynamic and rapidly evolving vision of one of modern dance’s greatest innovators. Struggling out on the road, being welcomed throughout the world, the troupe continues ahead, fueled by brilliance and bravado.
From bomber pilot to modern dance and Broadway dancer, from choreographer to teacher and dance administrator, Hodes has lived a life in the arts unlike any other. Told with humility, humor and nimble grace, his memoir is a must for dance aficionados, but more importantly, Part Real, Part Dream is a great read for anyone interested in an inside look into a rich, varied creative life in New York City and far beyond.
“Now that I’m in my ninth decade, flying, which I did for less than three years, and dancing, which lasted more than fifty, tower over everything but love and family. But it was Martha Graham who captured me.”
–Stuart Hodes, from the Preface
– Richard Move, from the Introduction
On Part Real, Part Dream
By Richard Move
What an amazing adventure! The Goddess Martha Graham herself endearingly called Stuart Hodes “My Pilot.” And Hodes, a WW2 U.S. Army Air Corps pilot before dancing with the Icon, becomes our very own pilot too, as he navigates us through the voyage of his remarkable life.
Hodes states, “Like going into battle, Martha Graham was the adventure of a lifetime.” His riveting memoir reveals the intensity and drama of dancing with the legend and his own unparalleled career, both within her magical universe and outside of it. In doing so, he charts the history of Contemporary Dance from the 40’s to the present. All captured with compelling candor, humor and ribald language, making it a delightful, spellbinding read.
And what a fitting title, “Part Real –Part Dream,” taken from Graham’s 1965 work of the same name. The simultaneous mystical aura of the “High Priestess” of the dance and her vulnerable humanity are divulged with Hodes’ lucid writing. Hodes unveils the mystery of the great genius and all her divine and demonic complexity with his vivid, visceral account. He offers us revelatory insight into the reality of working with Graham, often as her onstage partner, with stories we may have never read anywhere else.
Culled not just from memory, but Hodes’ actual dated diary entries, he details both the glorious triumphs and disappointing failures. Its all here; her seductive charms, mesmerizing presence, indomitable spirit, generosity, warmth and wit. However, nothing is withheld. Hodes also exposes Graham as a fierce sorceress with an explosive temper and their numerous arguments, as well as her tumultuous creative process, lust for power, acts of cruel betrayal and self-destruction. Also, of course, her enormous ego and impassioned commitment to her vision, which always came first. All told from his first hand accounts as he was there!
With intimate anecdotes, you feel as though you’re dancing with him through the pages, full of laugh out loud reminiscences. And the dangers of her dark side with stories of others caught perilously in her spell. Hodes invites us into the odyssey of working with Graham and no one is safe here. He is highly opinionated when expressing his thoughts regarding company members, management and anyone in Graham’s orbit, both past and present. This book captures her essence unlike any other. Especially, as Hodes makes a point to dispel rumors and correct what he considers historical inaccuracies about Graham as written by certain biographers.
He pilots us not only through the enchanting and turbulent trip that was Graham, but his other extraordinary experiences from dancer in other modern troupes to chorus “gypsy” and leading man on Broadway and Television. Hodes worked with Gypsy Rose Lee, Esther Williams, Lee Strasburg, Agnes DeMille, Milton Berle, Tallulah Bankhead, Mary Martin and once got advice from Carol Burnett! The book is further animated throughout with never before seen photographs and even Hodes’ own satiric song lyrics. He is the consummate artist and showman and recounts with humility his own prolific career as choreographer, company director and dance educator of incalculable influence to generations of dance artists.
But Graham’s ineffable powers consistently drew him back and Hodes describes his sincere devotion and their enduring relationship. Particularly touching are the moments of their reunions in the last years of her life. He’s continued to teach at the school and lend his expertise coaching company members in their roles to this very day.
Stuart Hodes is in a class by himself and his memoir deserves to be amongst those of the other greats of the dance. It is also a book for anyone interested in the personal journey of the life of the artist. A life that is most certainly “Part Real-Part Dream.”
New York City, NY, May 2011