Dance With An Apple
Coming back to Brooklyn on the R train the other day, the lovely dancer and actress Valda Setterfield sat down next to me. It was a three seater, so there was an empty seat between us. I saw her dance sometime in the early 70’s at some event that was held at the Whitney Museum. Her partner was an apple, and a more thrilling dance I had never seen. To this day I still remember her beautiful dance with that apple. I had over the years seen her and her dancer-choreographer husband David Gordon here and there and was always taken by how attractive and elegant they were. I didn’t know them personally. I would just sometimes see them at an art opening or a performance but I never spoke to either of them. Too shy I guess. Once in the early 80’s Tom and me went to see her and David dance at the Joyce Theatre, both of us loving their performance. Now in her mid 70’s Valda is still striking and elegant. I stopped reading my novel and leaned over and told her that I had once seen her dance with an apple and I have never forgotten it. “That was so long ago, thank you how nice of you. Its on film you know.” “Maybe its on Youtube I said.” But unfortunately it isn’t. “Is this train going to Atlantic Ave” she asked? Yes it is. She was no doubt going to some dance function at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I went back to my reading, not wanting to intrude on her privacy, but kept sneaking peeks at her in profile. What a great looking woman she is, I thought to myself. At 75 with her short silver hair, and her lovely lived in face, this was an artist aging beautifully and gracefully. Occasionally she pops up in some movie in small bits and walk ons. Woody Allen uses her quite alot, and she turns up as a guest at a dinner party in Six Degrees of Separation, and recently as a parishioner in Doubt. I didn’t tell her who I was; that I was an artist, that I did this and that, and when we reached her stop she got up and said thank you to me. I like to think that we made each other’s day. You know that’s one of the things I love about my city. Just think on the stinking R train going to Brooklyn, a dance legend got on and sat down next to me.