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The Secret Dance Life of Andy Warhol

In honor of what would have been Andy Warhol’s 88th birthday on August 6, we are remembering his love of dance. He came to Dance Magazine looking for work as an illustrator in 1951. Associate editor Doris Hering answered the door and saw a person she described as “a pathetic little thing.” But he was a good draftsman, and he proceeded to contribute many drawings —including two covers—to the magazine.

Warhol’s interest in dance started at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon), where he joined the modern dance club. Later, at his famous Factory, he made films that included dance artists Kenneth King and Lucinda Childs. He often went to see Judson Dance Theater, especially when ballet-trained Freddy Herko was performing.

I think it’s sweet that Warhol invoked an angel when assigned to come up with something for Dance Magazine’s food column in the August 1960 issue. It’s such a contrast to the devilishly unhealthy food and drugs ingested by the crowd he hung out with.

Warhol drawing in a 1960 Dance Magazine

For our Dance Magazine Annual in 1967, he concocted a low-flying ballerina.

Warhol drawing in the August 1967 issue

In 1968 he collaborated with Merce Cunningham on Rainforest, for which he suggested his helium-filled Silver Clouds, recently reconstructed by Stephen Petronio Company.

In 1999, well after his death in 1987, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh honored his love of dance with an exhibit called “Watching from the Wings: Warhol and Dance.” On display were his drawings and photographs, including portraits of Nureyev, Graham and Cunningham.

Here's a page from our anniversary coverage in the June 2007 issue. Included are his two 1958 covers: a portrait of Doris Humphrey and a collage of pointe shoes.

Long live the dancing pen of Andy Warhol!

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