Individuals who adored her, and there are quite a few, say Martha Knight was the dancer they aspired to, the artist they admired, the taskmaster they obeyed and the mentor and mate they grew to appreciate.
A ballet teacher for six many years, Knight took on the roles of choreographer, set designer, producer, director and costume designer to produce a string of area ballet productions that released the art variety to 1000’s in her adopted city. Knight died June 2 at her home of issues from Alzheimer’s sickness. She was 89.
“Martha was a treasure in Bakersfield,” reported Lisa Maxwell, who analyzed ballet less than Knight for several a long time
“She brought a great deal of artwork to this town.”
In a published tribute to Knight, Peter DeArmond, a former editorial site editor of The Californian, remembered seeing his individual daughter blossom beneath Knight’s instruction in advance of, in some way, currently being confident to dance as properly.
“I was hooked on the obstacle, but it turned into a motivation in the course of which I learned how tough and painful ballet could be,” DeArmond remembered. “To this day I believe that the ideal way to respect this artwork form is to attempt finding out it underneath a trainer like Martha Knight. Not only is ballet the most strange art sort in the globe — relating stories via the motion of the human overall body in exact, specific depth, synced completely to musical beats and rhythms — but it normally calls for unbelievable equilibrium, energy and stamina.”
Born on March 21, 1932 in Oakland, Martha took ballet lessons as a woman at Oakland Civic Ballet. The demanding artwork type soon turned her enthusiasm. According to a household obituary, as a teenager, Martha commenced training youthful women at her home in the Berkeley hills.
Just after graduating from El Cerrito High School, Martha enrolled at UC Berkeley, wherever she satisfied John Knight, an optometry college student who hailed from Bakersfield.
The pair married in 1955 just after Martha graduated from UC Berkeley with a diploma in education. They settled in Bakersfield where by her spouse established up his apply.
Knight tried using the teaching job for a number of decades, but ballet was calling, and there was no ignoring it.
“Her enthusiasm was contagious,” remembered Kay Hansen, who started getting ballet classes from Knight in 1962 when Hansen was just 8.
“It is really really hard to categorical exactly what she intended to me,” Hansen said of her lifelong mentor and close friend.
“She taught us not only to enjoy ballet, but the poise and self esteem that comes with it,” she reported. “We discovered about perseverance, what determination signifies.”
All of Knight’s students uncovered the which means of tricky perform and sacrifice, Hansen said. They discovered that striving for excellence was anticipated.
It’s what Knight envisioned of herself as very well.
“She didn’t set on minimal recitals for the dad and mom,” claimed previous ballet student and longtime friend Layne Smith.
“These ended up total-blown productions.”
“Alice By way of the On the lookout Glass,” “The Emperor’s New Dresses,” “Aladdin,” “Think about the Lilies.” “Sleeping Elegance.” These have been just a few of the productions that have been staged at some of the city’s most well-liked venues: The Fox theater, The Doré at Cal State Bakersfield, the indoor and outdoor theaters at Bakersfield University, and much more.
But it was “The King of Glory” in 1973 that was Knight’s most ambitious output. Achieved with help from Phil Dodson as musical director and prime musicians from the Masterworks Chorale and the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, the generation was 3 a long time in the producing and advised the tale of the existence of Christ in dance and new music.
Bakersfield had in no way seen nearly anything like it. And just about every performance bought out.
“She was a taskmaster,” Smith remembered with a chuckle.
“It could have been 12 o’clock at night. Martha would say, ‘Let’s get it correct. Let’s do it again.'”
And they would do it again. Till they received it correct.
Knight was preceded in death by her son Jim Knight. She is survived by her spouse of 65 many years, John L. Knight, and by sons Doug Knight and Larry Knight. The Knights have been blessed with 5 grandchildren.
Reporter Steven Mayer can be achieved at 661-395-7353. Observe him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.