Friday, May 21, 2010

Keep Kickin'

Posted by Leona Bergstrom


Last week the world said goodbye to 106-year-old Doris Eaton Travis.

Doris was the last of the legendary Ziegfeld Girls, the flamboyant, elaborately costumed, high kicking chorus girls of early-1900’s Broadway fame. Her passing, according to a Ziegfeld Follies archivist, “marks the end of the Ziegfeld golden era of Broadway.”

Her life experiences could not be further from my own, but I’m strangely drawn to want to follow her lead.

Doris grew up in Washington DC as one of seven children. She and her sisters danced on stage in several productions before Doris was hired, at age 14, by impresario, Florenz Ziefeld. She danced her way through years of Broadway performances. Dancing was her life, or as her sister described it, “dancing was a part of her soul.”

What intrigued me about Doris Eaton Travis was her perseverance to live her life with flamboyant passion. To begin with, she was a background dancer, but was soon elevated to playing the role of “paprika” in a life-size “salad” of women dancers. (Note: Here is where I actually DO relate – I played the part of a pea once in a grade school production of Peter Rabbit.) Later she was promoted to salt and then pepper, but eventually became a solo tap performer and singer. And, in short order, she became one of the most glamorous, and extravagant performers ever to hit the burlesque stage. Her second career was managing 18 Arthur Murray dance studios, oftentimes working 60-70 hours a week!

At age 88 she decided to get her bachelor’s degree and had plans for graduate school. She kept involved in life and community. Just a few weeks before her passing she kicked a couple of steps at a charity benefit, apologizing as she walked off the stage that she could no longer do cartwheels.

She danced. She kicked. She shone.

I’m drawn to the story of this spunky lady because she lived with passion. Her life teaches me to keep kickin’ – as high as I can, for as long as I can!

You tube of Doris Eaton Travis dancing at age 101!

1 comment:

Karla said...

That story reminds me so much of my grandparents. Too sweet!