Lucy Venable performing in José Limón's "Chopin Mazurkas" at the Connecticut College Summer Dance Festival in 1958. Photo by Matthew Wysocki.
Ohio State Dance emerita professor Lucy Venable died peacefully Tuesday morning, January 29, 2019. She is survived by her five nieces and their families. She was preceded in death by her brother and parents.
Lucy was born on October 28, 1926 in Charleston, West Virginia. She graduated with a BA from Wellesley College as a Spanish major and spent 20 years in New York City where she studied dance, primarily with José Limón, Doris Humphrey, Margaret Craske and Alfredo Corvino.
During this time, she became certified by the Dance Notation Bureau as a Labanotation teacher and Labanotator, and taught Labanotation and Limón technique at the Juilliard School and Connecticut College. Lucy performed with the José Limón Company (1957-1963), touring in the United States, Europe, Central and South America and the Far East. For five years, she was rehearsal director for the Merry-Go-Rounders, a dance company that performed for children. From 1961-1967 she directed the Dance Notation Bureau in New York City.
In 1968, she arrived at the Ohio State University where she taught dance fundamentals, Labanotation, repertory and Alexander Technique. She founded the Dance Notation Bureau Extension for Education and Research and was its director for 12 years. While at Ohio State, Lucy worked closely with fellow professor Odette Blum, establishing one of the department's foundational principles to center on dance documentation and Labanotation. Lucy also collaborated with George Karl and Scott Sutherland on the development of the software program LabanWriter, a project she continued with David Ralley. She served as vice president of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, on the board of directors of the Dance Notation Bureau and taught the Alexander Technique.
Lucy played a critical role in establishing Ohio State as an international center for Labanotation and Laban Studies. Her work helped to preserve the history of modern dance so that we can continue to bring it alive in the present. Her legacy continues to have a lasting impact on the college's dance department.
Lucy will be buried in the family plot in Charleston. A celebration of her life will be held at the Ohio State University Department of Dance, Sullivant Hall, 1813 North High Street in Columbus, Ohio, on a date to be announced.
Limón Dance Company in Missa Brevis. Photo courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation.
Some people believe that only new dances should be supported and seen live. By extension, they question the necessity of reconstructing older works, arguing that they should remain in the vault, or saved for archival viewings.
To some extent, I see their point. Room should be made for new voices and new works.
I have always felt a need to communicate and, even more importantly, to be understood. But as a child, I always hit an emotional wall when trying to speak.
Although my great-aunt Rose had no connection to dance, she intuitively saw that I needed an outlet, and recommended that I take a movement class. It was literally life-changing. I realized I could make myself understood without my needing to be verbal.