By Carla Berdecio Young

A former student remembers Waldeen, a half century after her dance days with her, and shares her "magical" memories (27 Jan. 2011). She spent her youth in Mexico, growing up there surrounded by the artists of the fabled renaissance.

PORTRAIT OF A GIRL (1940) by Roberto Berdecio. A significant contributor to the political and cultural art movement in Mexico during the 1950s and '60s, Berdecio painted murals and portraits, and created lithographs and artistic explorations into the fourth dimension. This afternoon I was listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and my thoughts took me back to a studio/apartment in Mexico City, in the late 1950s, maybe around 1960, to my dance class with Waldeen, when I was a young girl. Whenever I hear Vivaldi I think of her — remembering her with awe and admiration — a graceful, extraordinary woman. She had an imagination that could take us, her students, into other worlds.

We'd listen to the music and she would begin by telling a story to fit the melody, inspired by the music she had just played for us — Vivaldi's Four Seasons — on her record player, which was placed beside her as she sat on the wood floor, cross-legged and barefooted in her skirt and leotard. She taught us how to listen to the music and then tell her story with our bodies in movement, and hopefully, with a little grace.

Whatever happened to Waldeen? And more important, who was she? So many years ago, she was simply my dance teacher, and even as time passed, that was all I really knew. My father, Roberto Berdecio, was a friend of Waldeen's. He took my sisters and me to many performances of her dances, on Sunday afternoons, at Bellas Artes. After the dance we would go backstage to talk with Rosaura Revueltas, and see Waldeen.

Although immersed in that world, among these remarkable artists, including Neruda and others, I was too young to truly appreciate the individual stories behind the larger picture. But now I have learned, here, what I should have known about this remarkable woman.