Remembering Seymour Gitenstein

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dear Mr. G. … What a joy to have known him! He was one of the first people I met when Mark and I moved to Andalusia in 1979. We had gone to dinner and were walking to our table when a loud voice boomed across the room … “Wait a minute. You’re a dancer!”

Thus began a very special friendship. Mr. G. was my connection to my past. You see his sister, Annette, had danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and had worked with many of my former teachers – Butsova, Doubrouvska and Zoritch. She knew of Pavlova, Nijinska, Markova, Balanchine, Fokine and Diaghilev. So many of the people who influenced ballet as we know it today.

Mr. G and I shared a love, appreciation and knowledge of dance and the arts that most people in this area haven’t had the privilege of experiencing. Often I felt that he was the only one who truly knew what I did and why I did it. With Mr. G., I could share both my frustrations and my dreams for this community. He understood.

Mr. G. was an excellent pianist. I have wonderful memories of performing with him accompanying me. As he got older, I never knew how many times he was going to repeat the melody so I was always prepared to just keep dancing! An important part of our rehearsal process was a cup of coffee. He would always insist on grandly … and somewhat precariously … driving me to Hardee’s for that cup of coffee. You would have thought we were at the Ritz in NYC! Then he would take off his hat and ask for the senior citizen special. Mr. G. would drive very much like he lived his life, in whichever lane he chose to drive in, at whatever speed he deemed appropriate and whenever and wherever he wanted to go.

Most of all I will remember and cherish our many visits and phone calls where we talked of everything imaginable. Highly intelligent, informed, didactic and most opinionated. Mr. G. was one of a kind. He passionately believed in the importance of education and the exposure to dance and the arts in children’s lives. Mr. G. was instrumental in the development of Andalusia Ballet and was an avid supporter. His contributions gave many children in this area the opportunity to study ballet. He was especially interested in the success of the Church Street Cultural Arts Center which will soon be the new home of Andalusia Ballet. He understood what it could do for our community.

Mr. G. did so many t hings for so many people in this area. He will be fondly remembered and deeply missed.

Meryane Martin Murphy