Invitation to Dance - Tom Took it seriously
Even though Tom lost most of his hearing during air raids in London in WWII, he loved dance and music. His fascination with dance was well know to all his friends. He often spoke of his friends, Barton, Ted and Ruth, and his love of the ballet, and Balanchine.
I remember the night I walked into Beaux Arts and there was a scanitly clad man in full Indian headress, feathers reaching to the ground, dancing around in circles on an elevated stage in the middle of the hallway, that lead to the music room. The hall was crowded with people walking slowly by on either side of the table as if nothing of import was going on. For Beaux Arts it was très ordinaire.
Tom had a thing about Native American cultural artifacts. The day I found the new Beaux Arts in St. Petersburg, I was driving by the window and looked in and saw a familar sigh. An headress under the American flag, and rows of sofas facing a baby grand, I knew I was in the right Beaux Arts. Only Tom would put it together that way.
Tom Reese met Barton Mawmu in London during WWII. Tom was a young Navy postal officer. Barton was enlisted as a physical fitness specialist and entertained the troops. Both had a bit of time on their hands and, between air raids, managed to strike up a friendship that lasted a lifetime. After the war, Barton went back to his stage career and Tom back tto Florida and then to school in Califorina. They connected whenever their paths crossed.
Tom spent a some time at Jacob's Pillow, met Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn and probably toured for a while with the company working on stage props and backdrops. I suspect a lot of his ideas for Beaux Arts were based on the Pillow and some of the stages he worked on in California. There is a story of that Tom tells of shoving Alexandra Danilova out from under a falling prop, saving her from injury.
He mentions a stage in the Berkeley Hills which was built for Isadora Duncan by a man named Singer. I found a photo of the stage, overlooking the campus, in the San Francisco Performing Arts Library. It's the Temple of Wings, at 2800 Buena Vista Way, Berkeley, CA. It was not built for Isadora, as Tom thought, but for Florence Treadwell Boynton, who grew up in Oakland, was an admirer of Isadora, and taught her style of dance. There are some beautiful photos of dancers on stage by Margaretta Mitchell.