The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 14
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March 29, 1998

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 14

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West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 29, 1998
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Page 14
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THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 15A Dance pioneer regains memories didn't like her. You can defeat heart disease. "and I "It is vague," he said, Arthur Bell was homeless and suffering from dementia. He also was the New York City Ballet's first black dancer. can t remember. wnat ne cannot torget is dancing. In the late 1940s, there were almost no black dancers sir -w r. Jig'-. ' v performing in New York's white ballet companies. Dance archives show that two black dancers, Talley Beatty and Betty Nichols, performed with George Bal- -anchine's Ballet Society during the late 1940s. When Balanchine moved to New York City Center, 7 )' :isl he transformed Ballet Society in to the New York City Ballet. On March 2, 1950, the new " couldn't walk 30 feet without "The doctor said I needed bypass surgery... but I found a better answer. " LEN COREN, AGE 66 My sons, both doctors, recommended the program, and I avoided bypass." BETTY COHEN, AGE 70 chest pains. Now I'm running marathons. " FRANK BAUTZ, AGE 35 The New York Times NEW YORK He said that his name was Arthur Bell and that he had once been a dancer. Now, he could hardly stand. ,Two paramedics had taken hinj to Kings County Hospital this nonth after they noticed him on Bedford Street in Brooklyn: an olcfman who kept falling on the pavement, his balance as undone asfiis dignity. ".With a condition diagnosed as dethentia, he couldn't remember whether he had health insurance, he didn't know how he came to be in Brooklyn. His hospital social worker, Maria Mackin, learned that he lived at the Bellevue hohieless shelter. r; But as she stood by his bed, he spoke lucidly and with passion of his distant past. He described dancing in Paris, performing in New York with Tanaquil LeCler-cq land Jacques d'Amboise. He said he had once rehearsed with Margot Fonteyn, and he wept when Mackin told him that she was dead. had not thought of that life in'years," said Bell, who is 71. " If his story had not been so vivjd, so rich in details, Mackin mjght have dismissed it. Bell remembered only fragments of the past 30 years of his own life. No one had visited him. His family was a mystery. But Mackin was a former ballet photographer, and she knew of the famous dancers that Bell considered peers. She called the New York City Library for the Performing Arts. To her astonishment, his story was true. He was never a star, never anything but a minor dancer, but Arthur Bell could be called a pioneer: He was one of the first black dancers to perform with the New York City Ballet. The serendipity of having a social worker who loved ballet helped ensure that Bell did not leave the hospital as he had arrived homeless and anonymous. Tuesday, hospital officials transferred him to a nursing home in Queens where he can receive supervised care. Before he left the hospital room he had shared with five other men, Bell spoke of his dancing during the 1940s and 1950s as the greatest joy of his life. He cannot say for certain how long he has been homeless or how he has survived in recent years. He thought he once lived with an aunt in New York. He said he only remembered that he UmIWTW YORK TIMES "TSU" 1)R.)R.M)1MM company performed the world premiere of Illuminations, based on a poem by Arthur Rimbaud. As the only black dancer, Bell performed in the seventh section, "Being Beauteous." "He was the first black dancer to perform with the New York City Ballet," said Dawn Lille Horwitz, who teaches dance history at the Juilliard School and is the curator of "Classic Black," a traveling exhibition dedicated to early black dancers that includes a photograph of Bell. "I couldn't locate him, and no one I spoke to knew where he was. I thought he might be dead." For Bell, the role in Illuminations remains a vivid memory. "I'm telling you," he said, breaking into a wide smile, "I don't think I'm over it yet." REVERSING What do they all have in common? Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease. The Heart Institute at Broward General Medical Center is one of only eight facilities in the nation to offer this breakthrough program, combining stress management, diet exercise and group support Whether you're 35 or ?5, you can beat heart disease. Better yet, this proven program can reverse heart disease without drugs or surgery. Let us show you how. To learn more, come to one of these informative and exciting seminars. IlLMDThKLVVvK LAIll I'li'lJ; UUJ 2?;-WUy CMrtrC CAB m starts 7i v-wvw ?y uwu wav-Li TOMORROW Call 800-528-4888 for your FREE information packet or to RSVP for the information session near you. 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