Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski, an old partnership gets new light

The following is a guest post from the Music Division’s Dance Curator Libby Smigel.

Black and white image of dance performance

Barbara Morgan, photographer. Martha Graham, May O’Donnell (?), and Erick Hawkins in Letter to the World, circa 1940. Box 134, folder 4, Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski Papers, Music Division.

As a graduate student in dance and theater, I was captivated by the emergence of three different dance practices from the modern dance technique and choreography of Martha Graham.  Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor each developed a distinct artistic voice and style for the company they founded, becoming celebrations of originality in American concert dance. But when I began teaching dance history after Hawkins died in 1994, the kinds of rich material needed to document his legacy were maddeningly elusive. How did a Harvard graduate find his way first to Ballet Caravan, and then to Graham’s all-woman dance company? How did his fascination with the heritages of Native Americans, ancient Greece, and Japan influence his choreography and music choices? Where was the evidence of the forty-year creative collaboration between Hawkins and experimental music composer Lucia Dlugoszewski?

What I hadn’t realized then, but what became apparent when I joined the staff of the Library of Congress in 2015, was that Hawkins, Dlugoszewski (pronounced dwoo-goh-SHEF-skee), and the Erick Hawkins Dance Company had indeed been hard at work documenting his impact on dance. The Library of Congress received a significant gift of their personal papers and company records in the early 2000s.

Annotated dance score

Erick Hawkins. Choreographic notebook for Angels of the Inmost Heaven, 1984. Box 5, folder 6, Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski Papers, Music Division.

Annotated score

Lucia Dlugoszewski. Black Lake, timbre piano with composer’s annotations, undated. Box 145, folder 2, Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski Papers, Music Division.

Amongst the 220-box trove are Hawkins’s early journals dating from his Harvard years, choreographic notebooks in which he developed a unique system for recording his dances, photographs of his family and of the company’s performances, and correspondence with international figures in literature and philosophy. His company’s touring across the country is documented by booking records, production materials, and performance programs. A small cache of personal notes and poems from Dlugoszewski to Hawkins hints at their deeper relationship; they were secretly married in 1962.  Music scores are plentiful: Hawkins and Dlugoszewski were both committed to live music accompaniment using newly created scores commissioned for his dances. The scores for Hawkins’s choreography often contain movement notation and production cues as well as conductors’ annotations. Hawkins had persuaded Dlugoszewski not to publish her scores so as to avoid additional performance fees levied by the music publishers, but as a result many of the Dlugoszewski scores have never been accessible to devotees of experimental music.

This enticing material has been titled the Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski Papers to reflect their interlinked personal and professional lives, and is described in an online finding aid.

But wait! This batch of materials tells only half of the Hawkins-Dlugoszewski story! Following Hawkins’s death, Dlugoszewski succeeded him as artistic director of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company and began to choreograph as well as compose music for the dances. She died suddenly during preparations for the Hawkins Dance Company’s April performances in 2000, but left no will and no succession plan for the company. As New York state law prescribes when a person dies intestate, her apartment’s contents were impounded and inventoried by the Public Administrator’s office of New York City. Thanks to the dedicated perseverance and intervention of one of the Hawkins company dancers, in 2019 the Dlugoszewski legacy materials were reunited with those of Hawkins and the company.  This additional material is now undergoing archival organization and processing.  Within it we are finding previously-unknown details of her personal life and career, wedding photos of Hawkins and Dlugoszewski at her parents’ Michigan home, charts and photographs of the percussion instruments that sculptor Ralph Dorazio created to her specifications, and many, many creative notes and music scores. Look for our announcement on In the Muse when this second half of the Hawkins-Dlugoszeski Papers becomes available!

Black and white photograph of dance performance

Michael Avedon, photographer. Erick Hawkins and Dana Madole in his Geography of Noon, with Lucia Dlugoszewski providing music on percussion instruments that she designed, circa 1964. Box 128, folder 1, Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski Papers, Music Division.

Did you miss our earlier Music Division talk on Lucia Dlugoszewski’s collaboration with Erick Hawkins? You can still view the 2017 presentation titled “Discovering Creative Connections: The Collaboration of Erick Hawkins & Lucia Dlugoszewski.”

Do you want to learn more about Lucia Dlugoszewski’s music? Read this In the Muse blog post by Kate Doyle, a 2016 Music Division intern.

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