Photo by Randy Norton

Raye LeValley

E. Raye LeValley was one of the original teachers at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and later became the Director of Education there.

She was recruited by Sally Crowell, CHAW’s founder, to teach dance and art classes, design costumes, and help with children’s programs. According to LeValley, Crowell “always hired people who had multiple talents so they could fill in any spaces that needed to be filled in.”  Ms. LeValley remembers her 17 years of involvement in the Arts Workshop, as a teacher, singer, actor, dancer, backstage coordinator, and creator of costumes for performances at CHAW, including The King and I, Oliver, and The Matchmaker.  Ms. LeValley was also a member of the Jaynettes, the renowned Capitol Hill singing ensemble that performed, in her words, “gigs all over the city,” including many to benefit local schools and causes. In her interview, she remembers the many volunteers at CHAW and the community involvement that was instrumental to the success of the Workshop.  

Read Transcript
Interview Date
October 22, 2023
Randy Norton
David MacKinnon
Kaye Edwards

Full Directory



NORTON:This is Randy Norton. I’m interviewing Raye LeValley at my house at 730 11thStreet NE, Washington DC on October 22, 2023. Good morning.


NORTON:Where do you originally come from?

LEVALLEY: I grew up in the country in South Jersey on a50-some acre piece of land. My father built the house I grew up in. Startedtaking dance classes at the age of nine at a little dance school in Glassboro,New Jersey. I grew up in the town named Aura, which was literally a crossroadwith a feed store and a little tiny grocery store that made sandwiches. Went tothe Aura school, elementary school. My mother was the secretary of the board ofeducation there.

NORTON:Which county, or was it a county or township?

LEVALLEY: Township.It was called Elk Township. Very rural. Very rural. All farms all right. Wegrew up with a peach orchard next to us. We would climb the peach trees. As amatter of fact, the farmer gave us a couple of peach trees. He says, “You cantake any peaches from these trees.” So, we always had fresh peaches. My fatherhad a huge garden. We always had fresh vegetables. Yeah. It was very nice. Weused to play in the woods. Not worry about anything. We had a dog. The dogwould go with us. My mother used to let us play in the woods. We would pretendthat the ruts that we saw were wagon wheels from [laughs] …

NORTON: Fromthe settlers, right?

LEVALLEY: Yeah,uh huh. In fact, on that land my father found a lot of Indian artifacts.Arrowheads. After his death we went through, you know, the things he never gotrid of— he never got rid of anything. I found a—it wasn’t an axe—it was thesize of — bigger than my hand — with the groove in it where it was tied to astick. I don’t know how strong the person was who wielded that. It is so heavy.But that was evidently found on the land. It was an interesting place to growup. My grandmother lived down the street. It was originally my grandmother’sproperty. She gave it to my dad to build a house on.

NORTON:You’re going to Aura’s elementary school. How did you get interested in danceor the arts?

LEVALLEY:I loved listening to [laughs] records. We had a little 45 record player, and Iwould listen to — what was my favorite? —I would dance. I remember doing tourjetés before I knew what a tour jeté was.

NORTON: Idon’t know what at tour jeté is either.

LEVALLEY:A tour jeté is a leaping move in ballet. But my mother and father were rollerskaters. They did the dancing roller skating. My mother— she, of course, waswatching me do this little dance stuff — and she said, “I think maybe she couldbe a good roller skater, and we’ll give her ballet lessons. Then she can gofrom there.” I took one lesson, and I said, “Oh my god, this is … ” I remembersaying this to myself, “This is what I want to do. I want to dance.” I wasconstantly putting on other people’s point shoes because I was too young tobasically wear point shoes.

NORTON: Theseare other people at the dance class?

LEVALLEY:At the dance studio. They had their point shoes, and I was constantly puttingthem on. At the age of nine, I think, I got in my first. Well, maybe ten,because I was nine when I started. So, maybe I was ten. She relented and said,“All right, get your point shoes.” Now if I put point shoes on my feet I woulddie. [Laughs.] My poor feet. It ruins your feet. It just ruins your feet. Thenwhen I went to college,  [where] we had amodern dance teacher. Because I had taken ballet — I started when I was ateenager, going up to Philly to study with a man named Pete Conlow who had astudio on 21st and Chestnut Streets.

NORTON:How long did it take you to get to Philadelphia?

LEVALLEY: Itwas like 45 minutes. It wasn’t bad. My mother would drive up there. I stillhave the notes she wrote in the classes. She would write, because hechoreographed the classes. They weren’t just, “Oh do eight plies in first andeight plies in second.” It was like choreographed. You had to remember theselong things, which was very good for us. He trained dancers who went on. One ofhis dancers was the director of the Chicago Ballet Company, I believe. Wecalled him Buddy. That wasn’t what he went by when he was the director. But itwas Buddy. Then another girl went on to the ballet company at the Radio CityMusic Hall. His training was excellent. He was an old vaudevillian. He had donevaudeville.

NORTON:What was his name again?

LEVALLEY:Pete Conlow.

NORTON:Okay. Go ahead.

LEVALLEY:Pete Conlow. It was great. You would walk up these real narrow stairs. He had apianist who played for the class. If somebody was going down the floor doingturns, and they couldn’t quite do it as fast as everybody else was doing it,she would slow down. It was so [laughs], I mean, they don’t do that anymore.Nobody has a real pianist in their studio anymore unless you’re a big company.I went there for a long time.

NORTON:Let me back up just a little bit because you started, your first dance classeswere in Glassboro?


NORTON:How far was that from your house?

LEVALLEY:Maybe ten minutes.

NORTON:So, it was like the next big town or something?

LEVALLEY:Yeah. Glassboro was where Rowan University is. It was Glassboro State [then],which is where I went to college, which was my first experience with moderndance. They had just hired a modern dance teacher in the physical educationdepartment. They would not let her in the halls with leotards and tights on.

NORTON:Oh, right because the dress code was …

LEVALLEY: Ohmy god. In fact, I was an art major. I went for art. I wanted to go to New YorkCity, but my mother wasn’t …

NORTON:Why did you want to go to New York City? To be a dancer?

LEVALLEY:To dance, that’s why, and my mother was like, “Oh no you don’t. You are notgoing to New York City.” So, I wound up being an art major, and lo and behold,there was a modern dance teacher for the first time ever at Glassboro. Sheintroduced me to modern dance. I wound up choreographing shows at Glassboro.

NORTON: Thatwas part of your course work? You would learn how to choreograph shows?

LEVALLEY:Well, I just did it.

NORTON:Oh, you did?

LEVALLEY:No, I just did it. We didn’t learn anything. We didn’t learn how tochoreograph. They do now. Yeah, I just did it. [Laughs.] She did it for a whileand then I did it as I got …

NORTON:She did it for a while and then you did it?

LEVALLEY:Yeah, and then I did it. It was fun. I was in shows. Did a lot of shows.

NORTON:What other art courses were you taking at Glassboro?

LEVALLEY:The visual arts. I was in printmaking, painting, pottery, drawing. It wasbasically art education at that time. You had to have a background ineverything so you could teach everything.

NORTON:Teach art.

LEVALLEY: Whichwas one of the reasons why Sally [Crowell] hired me for the Workshop [CapitolHill Arts Workshop] because she knew I was not only a dancer; I was also an artteacher. She was always like, using people. She always hired people who hadmultiple talents so they could fill in any spaces that needed to be filled in.[Laughs.]

NORTON: Thisis Sally, right? Yes?

LEVALLEY:Yes, always, always. She saved my life. Let me tell you. When I separated frommy husband in 1975, she immediately hired me because she knew I was going toneed a job. [Laughs.] I had been dancing with them, but I wasn’t on payroll atthat point. She basically hired me because she knew I was going to need somemoney somehow, and she could use me, you know?

NORTON:Right. Let me back up just a little bit. So, you’re at Glassboro. Did you stayat home or did you …

LEVALLEY:Oh, I lived at home. I was a commuter.

NORTON:Oh, that must have been fun.

LEVALLEY:I was a commuter. It wasn’t fun for my mother. [Laughs.]

NORTON:Why do you say that?

LEVALLEY: Iwas a little wild. Not bad wild, but I was in the theater. I’d stay out late.She would worry. I met my [soon-to-be] husband. When I graduated, I got marriedalmost immediately. I met my husband, Guy.

NORTON:Guy LeValley?

LEVALLEY:Guy LeValley there.

NORTON:Was he a student at Glassboro?

LEVALLEY:Yeah. He was a senior when I was a freshman, I think. He was either a junior orhe might have been a senior. He was in theater. He was a scenic … he was in thetheater department and I met him [laughs]. The director, Mike Kelly said — hewas Oberon in Midsummer Night’s Dream—and the director said, “Findyourself a dancer and learn how to move.” [Laughs.] So, I was the dancer thathe found. My best friend from high school introduced me to him. He knew I was adancer, so he sought me out.

NORTON:Did it help in his learning how to move?

LEVALLEY:Oh definitely, definitely. In fact, he danced with us. The modern dance teacherwas doing things with the chamber orchestra in Glassboro. He danced with us. Hedid like sort of — I don’t know what kind of dance. It was modern but it waslike more classic, to classical music. It was more classic dancing than moderndancing. Anyway, he danced with us, yes.

NORTON:Did you go all the way through Glassboro? Did you graduate?


NORTON:You said you got married right after.

LEVALLEY:  Right after. Veryshortly.

NORTON:  Okay. What happened next?

LEVALLEY:Guy had a job in Illinois [laughs]. You really want to know all this stuff?


LEVALLEY:In Alton, Illinois, which is not the most conscious—well, at that time theydidn’t even have a book store in Alton, Illinois.

NORTON: What’sit near?

LEVALLEY:It’s right across the river from St. Louis, actually. If you take the bridgeover, you’re in St. Louis.

NORTON:So, it’s not far from East St. Louis.

LEVALLEY: Right,right. Yeah, yeah.

NORTON:So, you moved there?

LEVALLEY:We moved there. He was the scenic designer. I got pregnant immediately. I mean,our wedding night as far as I can figure. Actually, we spent our honeymoon inNew York. He got a job with Shakespeare in the Park.

NORTON:Guy did?

LEVALLEY:Guy. When we were in New York right after we got married, he got a job withShakespeare in the Park because he knew somebody.  He went to the University of Iowa to get hismaster’s degree. One of the guys he knew from the University of Iowa workedwith Shakespeare in the Park. And he got a job immediately [laughs].

NORTON:So, you’re in New York.


NORTON:But then you went to Alton or was it the other…

LEVALLEY:Yes. After New York, Guy needed a job. He didn’t want to stay in New York. So,we came back and lived with my parents for a little while, and then his parentsfor a little while. Wow, I haven’t thought about this stuff for a long time.

NORTON: That’sall right. I’m just trying to get, you know, a little — these are backgroundquestions.

LEVALLEY:There’s a lot of jumping around here. So, he got a job.

NORTON:In Alton.

LEVALLEY:He got a job at a girl’s school.

NORTON:In Alton?

LEVALLEY: InAlton, Illinois. I’m trying to remember the name of it. I don’t remember thename of it. But it had a theater that had been featured in Lifeor Lookmagazine. It was the worst theater he ever worked in. The place to build thescenery had just like normal double doors. You couldn’t get big pieces ofscenery in and out without, like, struggling. The sound board was back stage.It was just the worst. It was pretty and the sound was good, but it was — and Idid costumes there. I was sort of an adjunct to him. Never got paid a thing. Heonly stayed there for a year because a lot of stuff that went on, and we werelike, “Ooh, let’s get out of here.” So, we came back to New Jersey. My son wasborn in Alton by the way. Ian was born in Alton, Illinois. They had very gooddoctors. I really was appreciative of the doctors. When Ian was tiny, we wentback to New Jersey. He [Guy] was applying for jobs.

NORTON:Guy was.

LEVALLEY:Yes, yes, yes, because he needed a job. We wound up, long story made short, wewound up — he became the tech director at Prince George’s Community College.

NORTON: Sothat’s how you got down to the DC area?

LEVALLEY:That’s how we got to the DC area, yes. At Prince George’s I also choreographedand costumed. Never got a cent for it. I mean, working — I can’t imagine howmany hours I was working. Costuming huge productions. They did like four orfive productions a year. And I was choreographing it, costuming for nothing.That’s how much I didn’t value [my] talents.

NORTON:When are we talking about when you came down here, roughly?

LEVALLEY: Ianwas born in ’68, so it was like ’70. Probably in the 70s.

NORTON:Early 70s.

LEVALLEY:Early 70s. Yeah.

NORTON:Where did you live at that point?

LEVALLEY:We lived in a trailer park.

NORTON:Where abouts?

LEVALLEY:In College Park. You know where the Ikea is now?

NORTON:Sort of.

LEVALLEY:That was a trailer park. There were lots of graduate students [who] livedthere.

NORTON:From Maryland?

LEVALLEY:From the University of Maryland. Even graduate teachers lived there. It wasvery interesting. It was a very nice little trailer park. He [Guy] didn’t knowwhether he was going to stay in the same place or not, so we needed to bemobile somehow. I was not happy there [laughs]. Okay?

NORTON:What happened next, from your point of view? What did you do next?

LEVALLEY:What did I do next. Well, working at Prince George’s was fateful because atPrince George’s one of the students who was also a dancer [who] took lessons atErika’s.

NORTON:This is Erika Thimey?

LEVALLEY:Correct, correct. Very good. She said to me at one point, “You know, you shouldcome with me and take a class with Erika.” This is heading into the Erikathing, okay?

NORTON:That’s good.

LEVALLEY:Okay. It’s connected. So, it was Arlene Horowitz.

NORTON:She was your fellow student?

LEVALLEY:She was my student. I was like, what, two years older than they were. I mean itwas like they were friends. They weren’t just students. She later went toMaryland, which is also another connection. She went to the University ofMaryland, got her degree in dance at the University of Maryland and went onfrom there. But she introduced me to Erika. I took one class at Erika’s.

NORTON: Wherewas Erika’s studio then?

LEVALLEY: Herstudio was at 30th and M Streets [NW]. A beautiful studio. Secondfloor — the top floor was her apartment. The second floor was her studio, whichwas a beautiful studio with floor to ceiling windows. Lots of light. Beautifulfloor. She always had pianists in her class. Anyway, I took one class, andErika came to me afterwards and she said, “We’re having a rehearsal of the companyon Tuesday.” This is the one class I took. She was looking for peopleobviously.  [Erika’s company was TheWashington Dance Theater.]

NORTON:Maybe she saw talent.

LEVALLEY:[Erika said] “You might think about coming to the rehearsal.” I was like, “Oh,really?” [Laughs.] “Oh, okay.” So, I did. That was the beginning. There wasnothing ever official. I was just like, I came, I danced and that was it forthe next ten years at least.

NORTON:All right. What else were you doing during the ten years you were dancing withErika?

LEVALLEY:Costuming and doing stuff at Prince George’s Community College.

NORTON:For nothing.

LEVALLEY:For nothing, for nothing. When I look back at that, I just can’t believe how Idid not value my talents. It’s such a different world. I was an adjunct of myhusband. He was the tech director. They needed somebody, so I did it. I think Igot a throw and a piece of jewelry. I think that was it. I got a beautiful woollap throw.

NORTON: Throwrug kind of thing. Blanket. Yeah.

LEVALLEY:And a piece of jewelry, which I still have, from the director of the theater[laughs].

NORTON:That era there was — we all weren’t allegedly so concerned about money backthen either.

LEVALLEY: Thisis true. Guy had a good job, so we had enough. We weren’t like people intoluxury or anything like that. In fact, Guy didn’t even like to go out to havedinner. We didn’t go out to eat or anything like that.

NORTON: Didyou get paid for being in Erika’s company?

LEVALLEY: Yes,we did. Not a lot. Sometimes it was $25 a performance. The whole company wasmade up of women like me who were dancers who had children. You know, hadchildren and a family. But we were dancers. So, Erika kind of just took us inand made us her family.

NORTON: Didyou put on a lot of shows during the year? How did that work?

LEVALLEY:With Erika?

NORTON: WithErika, yeah.

LEVALLEY: Wedid the children’s dance theater, which was pioneering. Erika was a pioneer ofmany things. Children’s dance theater in the public schools.

NORTON:In the DC public schools?

LEVALLEY:Everywhere. We were all over DC. That’s how I learned my way around DC[laughs]. Because it was like, we were in this school. We had to be there like7:30 or eight o’clock in the morning. We would do the performances. I don’tknow how many we did. I don’t think we did more than one a week. We weresponsored by the Friday Morning Music Club and the Washington Performing ArtsSociety.

NORTON:What were your performances like when you went to the elementary schools?

LEVALLEY:Oh, they were fun.

NORTON:What did you do?

LEVALLEY:They were fun. We started out with the percussion parade, which was a parade.We danced through the audience if we could, and on up on to the stage. We had ascore. I was the cymbals. I was very loud. But there were temple blocks anddrums, maracas. Somebody had maracas. I had the noisy stuff. We danced throughthe audience. Then danced on the stage and made a lot of noise. It was fun.Then we did the Just So Stories.

NORTON: RudyardKipling, right?

LEVALLEY:Kipling Just So Stories. I was the rhinoceros, How the Rhinoceros GotIts Skin. Sally was a stove.

NORTON:Sally Crowell, right?

LEVALLEY:Sally Crowell was a stove. It was a lot of fun. We just had a lot of fun.

NORTON:That’s how you met Sally, huh? Was it with Erika?

LEVALLEY:With Erika, yeah. We also did liturgical dance. I remember the day that Sallyand I actually connected. We had done a performance at St. John’s Episcopal[Church] in Georgetown, which was a place that Erika regularly did liturgicaldance because the music director and she were — he played piano for her. Ican’t remember his name. He was the organist there. He directed the choir and[was] music director. Erika did a lot of work there. It was a lovely church tobe in.

It was after one of thoseperformances. We were celebrating something, because I remember we hadchampagne. Sally and I started to talk. We just kind of hit it off. At thatpoint we had been in the company, but you know, you come in, you rehearse, yougo home. She had a son who was a year older than my son. They were two andthree. They are still friends. All this time, they’re still friends. He stillcomes when he comes to DC because he works for — I don’t know exactly who heworks for now. He used to work for Equal Exchange. I think he’s veryaccomplished. He’s like a director of — I don’t know for sure, so I’m not going to say.

NORTON: Thisis Sally’s son Ted?

LEVALLEY:Sally’s son Ted. He comes here for conferences and stuff. He still stays withIan when he comes here. It was a lifelong friendship for them. And it was alifelong friendship for me at Erika’s because one of the reasons I’m here thisweekend is we are getting together at one of the former dancers of Erika’s[house] with a lot of the people who were in the ETC Company [The Erika ThimeyDance and Theater Company] that Sally founded after Erika had retired. We’regetting together with a group for a luncheon tomorrow. It’s like lifelongfriends.

NORTON:How did you first get involved with the Arts Workshop?

LEVALLEY:We had a dance company. I believe — we did children’s theater. We did Charlotte’sWeb and we did …

NORTON:Is this with Erika?

LEVALLEY:No. This is with Sally. Sally, when she started the Workshop. Well, she startedteaching like a class here and a class there, and she rented a little space inone of the churches off of Lincoln Park, I think. She was teaching classes tochildren. She had the drive to create her own thing. She just pulled ustogether. Dancers from Erika to do children’s theater. So, we did Charlotte’sWeb, and we did Free to Be You and Me before it was a big deal. Theymade her stop. We couldn’t perform Charlotte’s Web or Free to Be Youand Me after a while because they wouldn’t give us the rights to do it.

NORTON:This is the copyright folks?

LEVALLEY:Yeah, because they were going to do other things. They were going to doother things with those stories, so we couldn’t do it anymore. But we took Freeto Be You and Me up to the Cape.

NORTON:Cape Cod?

LEVALLEY:We performed in Provincetown. Yeah. It was fun.

NORTON:How did that happen? What got you up there?

LEVALLEY:I honestly don’t know [laughs]. I don’t know. [See interview with SallyCrowell on this website.]

NORTON:Were you still doing dancing with Erika as well as — this is Sally’s sort ofsidelight company?

LEVALLEY:Yeah. I think it was kind of simultaneously. Or maybe it was one after theother. I don’t remember. I actually don’t remember [laughs].

NORTON:Okay. I know in one of your bios and these various programs at the ArtsWorkshop …


NORTON:Well, it says that you’d been involved with the Arts Workshop for 17 years.This was in 1989, so that would have been ’72.

LEVALLEY:Oh, so it was simultaneous. Yeah, because I was with Erika until 1980, I think.Erika retired; I think she retired in ’80. But we were dancing still with herafter she retired out to the church in Smithsburg.

NORTON:Smithsburg where?

LEVALLEY:Maryland. Yeah. She bought a church. She and her sister, who used to do thecostumes for her, moved out there, and they lived there. She also had otherpeople. She pulled in other people out there and was dancing in churches outthere.

NORTON:This would have been early 80s that she did that?


NORTON:Let’s go back. Now, you’re dancing with Erika. You also get, if I may,sucked in by Sally to do these children’s shows. [LeValley laughs.]

LEVALLEY:Oh, it was delightful. It was really fun, yeah. I loved doing it all.

NORTON:Who were the kids that were involved in the children’s shows? Where did Sally findthem?

LEVALLEY:The other people?

NORTON:Yeah, the other people.

LEVALLEY:Erika’s company.

NORTON:These were the adults doing the shows for children?

LEVALLEY:For children, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely, definitely.

NORTON:Then as you pointed out, you also got involved doing the arts instructionand stuff.

LEVALLEY:Right, right, right. With Mariana Gasteyer. She was the main —  because she, Jean Lewton and Mariana Gasteyerand Sally were the original founders of the Workshop. Yeah, I was sort of likean adjunct to Mariana, and I would teach other art classes, and I [would] teachballet classes because I had a strong ballet background.

NORTON:Was this the first time you’d been involved with kids, other than your ownkids, teaching kids and stuff or was that …

LEVALLEY:Actually, the director of the theater in college had a daughter. My father hadbuilt me a studio, my sister and I, because both of us danced. He had built astudio in our basement at our house. Mirror, wall mirrors, barre, the wholebit. So, I started teaching Mike Kelly’s daughter ballet. I would go pick herup at home, bring her to my house, give her a lesson and take her back. Thatwas my first experience with young people [laughs].

NORTON:Mike Kelly. That was back up in New Jersey?

LEVALLEY:That was Glassboro. He was the director of the theater in Glassboro, yeah.

NORTON:All right. Going back to the Arts Workshop.

LEVALLEY:This is so rambling. It’s amazing [laughs].

NORTON:Well, no. That’s part of my job is to try to keep it as straight as possible.We’ll see.

LEVALLEY:Good luck [laughs].

NORTON:Talking to Sally, it sounded like it evolved into the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

LEVALLEY:Yes, it did. It did. We were teaching in that little chapel on Fourth Street.

NORTON:The Presbyterian church there?

LEVALLEY: ThePresbyterian church. There’s a little chapel and Sally was, I don’t knowwhether she was leasing it or renting it or whatever, but we started. When Istarted teaching for her, we were there. We were in that little chapel area.That’s where we had our class. We had the portable barres. We pulled them out.[Laughs.]

NORTON:What do you mean, the portable barres? This is the dance barres?

LEVALLEY: Dancebarres, yes. Yeah, the dance barres. We’d drag them out.

NORTON: Wereyou also teaching visual arts there at that time too?

LEVALLEY: Yeah.Mariana was teaching and I was teaching, yeah, the two of us I guess were bothteaching. I was sort of more assisting her at that point in time, I think.

NORTON:Do you remember whether it was officially called the Capitol Hill Arts Workshopat that point?

LEVALLEY:I think at that point it was, yeah, yeah.

NORTON:Do you have any recollection why it was called that?

LEVALLEY:Capitol Hill Arts Workshop?

NORTON:Yeah. Well, it was on Capitol Hill, but why was it called the Arts Workshop?

LEVALLEY:Well, because it was. It was kind of a logical title [laughs].

NORTON: Yougot started doing the visual arts and ballet. Then what, in terms of the ArtsWorkshop?


NORTON:One thing leads to another.

LEVALLEY: Onething leads to another. At that time, actually when we were in the chapelthere, I think Sally was working on renovation of the B.B. French School[Benjamin Brown French School at 7th and G streets SE]. Yes. I guess I wasteaching some classes that she would have been teaching if she wasn’t workingthere. I think I came in at a very good time, so she could have time to do allthe administrative stuff, which, I’m sure, was overwhelming at the time. Butshe seemed to have the energy to do it all. Yeah. Then when the B.B. FrenchSchool opened, I just taught more classes. We did the after-school program.Driving the van around on Capitol, all around the Hill, picking up kids atschool and bringing them. Your children by the way [laughs].

NORTON:It’s funny, Linda, my wife, took some classes there when it was still at thePresbyterian church.

LEVALLEY:Oh yeah. Oh yes. Oh. She must have worked with Mariana then, because she wasteaching the adults. I wasn’t teaching adults at that time.

NORTON:May have. But I think she was probably taking dance, or something, classes too.Were you involved in the actual renovation? Did you have to pitch in?

LEVALLEY:I don’t remember being that involved in it. Yeah, no I don’t because, I know Iwas somehow involved but no, I was not there a lot because I was at the chapeldoing things, and I had my husband and the theater. I was still married. Ilived out in College Park.

NORTON:Still in the trailer park?

LEVALLEY:Yup, yup. I’m pretty sure, yeah. I’ve never been good with dates. Guy and Isplit up in 1975. That’s when she hired me. But I had been dancing. I think shehad been doing the children’s stuff before that.

NORTON: Thechildren’s theater before that.

LEVALLEY:Yeah, yeah.

NORTON:Before you got divorced.

LEVALLEY: Lateron, when we were at the Workshop, the DC Dance Consortium. We had a companycalled the Dance Consortium, which wasn’t the children’s dance stuff. It wasconcert dance things. We did performances for adults. It wasn’t children’stheater anymore. It was serious dance concert stuff. We traveled to Hunter. Wedanced at Hunter College.

NORTON:Where’s Hunter?

LEVALLEY:In New York City. I think that was because of Dorothy Vislocky. I think Sallyhad worked with Dorothy Vislocky.

NORTON: Doyou know how to spell Dorothy’s last name?

LEVALLEY:I think it’s just the way it sounds. She had had some connection with Dorothyand that’s how we wound up at Hunter because Dorothy taught at Hunter. She wasone of the first people to teach Pilates. She had actually worked with Pilateson the technique. The Pilates technique. She did a workshop down here at AmericanUniversity. I knew Dorothy from that. So anyway, we did concert dance as wellas children’s dancing.

NORTON:Was this sort of working out of the Arts Workshop, the DC Dance Consortium?

LEVALLEY:Uh huh, yes. Yeah. We did performances, before the Black Box was the Black Box.We’d do things in that big room.

NORTON:Which was the big room in …

LEVALLEY:… which is the big room that is now Taffety Punk Theater [in the Capitol HillArts Workshop].

NORTON:Right, but I guess they probably still do some stuff there.

LEVALLEY:Oh, I’m sure they still do. Yeah, yeah.

NORTON: Ido remember at the end of the terms the kids took classes,  you would always have the shows.

LEVALLEY:Oh, the kids did lots of … oh, we had the shows. No-pressure shows, but they wereshows. We were always very conscious of … since Sally and I both grew up indance schools where they had these huge, big performances, and it cost lots ofmoney to buy the costumes. It was a lot of pressure. We were both like, “We’renot doing that to our kids.” [Laughs.] “We’re going to make it as relaxed aspossible.” No big hoofy costumes and stuff like that. We’ll just do apresentation of what they’ve been doing. It worked very well. It really didwork very well. I’ve had little kids, they’re three. They don’t want to get upin front of a lot of people. It’s like, “Okay, you don’t have to.” Then,eventually they’d kind of creep out onto the floor and join in. That was sortof our philosophy that we had. No pressure [laughs].

NORTON: SteveJohnson also was with you at the Arts Workshop.


NORTON: Andhe was with …

LEVALLEY: Hewas with Erika. He was her single male dancer [laughs].

NORTON:With Erika?

LEVALLEY:With Erika. Yeah, yeah.

NORTON:He came over and taught acrobatics.

LEVALLEY:Acrobatics, uh huh.

NORTON:And dancing.

LEVALLEY:Oh, he was so wonderful with the children. He was just great.

NORTON: Yes.He was. Sally at some point then decides she’s going to put on performances ofvarious kinds. You know, shows and musicals and other shows. Did you getinvolved with them?

LEVALLEY:Oh yeah [laughs]. Let’s guess. What did I do? [Laughs.]

NORTON:When’s the first time you got involved with one of those? Do you remember? Iknow you were doing the children’s Charlotte’s Web kind of thing.

LEVALLEY: Ithink it might have been — I remember, I sang, I acted, I danced, I costumed.[Laughs.]

NORTON:All of the above.

LEVALLEY: Oh,what was the first thing I did? I don’t remember the first thing I did.

NORTON:What’s the first thing you remember?

LEVALLEY:I remember being — oh god, my brain is so foggy about this stuff because Ihaven’t thought about it for years. I can’t even remember the name of the show,which is terrible. I was Mrs. somebody who had a very high voice, and I had totrain really hard to get the high voice.

NORTON: Wasit a musical?

LEVALLEY:Yes, it was a musical with all the kids, the boys, Oliver.


LEVALLEY:Oliver. It was Oliver, yes.

NORTON:But I know you’d done costuming before that, in like Damn Yankees andmaybe Guys and Dolls, too.

LEVALLEY:Yeah, yeah. I wasn’t in Damn Yankees though. I wasn’t in DamnYankees. I think I just did the costuming in Damn Yankees, some ofit. I didn’t do all of it, because Linda [Norton] eventually did costuming.

NORTON: Yeah,but she didn’t do any early on.

LEVALLEY:Early on, right.

NORTON:She was eight months and three quarters pregnant with Thomas.

LEVALLEY:Right, right. I think she started doing costumes when I became director ofeducation. I said, “Sally, I don’t think I can do it all. I don’t think I cando the costuming and be the director of education, too.” I was doing a lot.

NORTON: Atthe Arts Workshop.

LEVALLEY:The biggest costuming job that I did was The King and I. We had 60children on that stage. [Laughs.] I remember, I thought, “How?” and I did it. Ithink I only spent $300 costuming. They were opulent. The king had opulentcostumes.

NORTON:And the whole king’s court. All the princes …

LEVALLEY:Oh my god, the king’s court. I put out a call to all the mothers from theworkshop for any material they had stuck away in their basements. That’s how Idid it.

NORTON:But you still had to make them all.

LEVALLEY:Oh, I still had to make them all. Yeah, yeah. Luckily Thai clothes are kind ofsimple. [Laughs.]

NORTON:On the other hand, they’re not the kind of clothes you can go to the thriftstore and get.

LEVALLEY:Right. No, no, no. A lot of shows it was easy because you could do that, butthis one you couldn’t. I remember we had a whole crew making the little goldhats that the female dancers wore. Paper mâché. [Laughs.] Stick on gems. Oh mygod, yeah. Yeah, that was fun. But it always pulled the people in the communityso together. It just pulled everybody in. All of a sudden there was thismarvelous production.

NORTON:  [Which] somehow Sally put together over atHine Junior High School [formerly at Pennsylvania Avenue between Seventh andEighth Streets SE].

LEVALLEY:At Hine. Truly awesome. She was awesome.

NORTON:It was.

LEVALLEY:She had an amazing way of getting people involved and getting them to do welland pulling in the right musicians.

NORTON:Most of the shows were pretty daggone good.

LEVALLEY: Theywere good. They were really good. Yeah.

NORTON:Okay, so, you costumed The King and I. You were not in The King andI.

LEVALLEY:No. I wasn’t in The King and I. [Laughs.]

NORTON:Then I think, Oliver, no. No, King and I was after Oliver,wasn’t it?

LEVALLEY:Yes, oh yes, yeah. I have a great King and I story.

NORTON: What’syour good King and I story?

LEVALLEY: Notmany people know. The lead person, woman, had these huge, big gowns. What washer name? Do you remember?

NORTON:Dorothy Kellogg.

LEVALLEY: Dorothy.Dorothy. She had these huge, big gowns. So, I had to make them. I had to have aspace to make them in. I lived right across the street from the Arts Workshopwhen I lived here in DC.

NORTON:So, you moved to the Hill, what, about ’75?

LEVALLEY:No, no. It was way after that. It was way after that. There were several otherplaces in between. No, I lived in Bethesda. Then I lived out in Frederick. Thenfinally I came into DC and lived right across the street from the Workshop.

NORTON:I’m sorry, I interrupted your story about Dorothy and the costumes.

LEVALLEY:Okay, so I was at home and I put on a pot of kidney beans. I think I was goingto make chili or something like that. I put on a pot of the hard kidney beansin a big pot to cook. Then for some reason I thought, “You know what, nobody’sat the Workshop. I could go over there and cut out the skirt for Dorothy.” So,I went over to the Workshop — totally forgot about the beans. Totally forgotabout the beans. I hear fire engines coming down the street hours later.

NORTON:And you’re working on the dress?

LEVALLEY:I’m working on the [dress], right. I said, “Oh my god. It’s my beans.” I racedout of the Arts Workshop. I look at my apartment and there is black smokecoming out of my apartment. I mean, literally coming out of the windows. Thefiremen are there. I actually run by them as they’re going up the stairs,because all I could see was them taking their axes and hacking my door down.I’m running up the stairs underneath them sort of. They’re on the side. I’mrunning.

I said, “It’s my beans. It’s my pot ofbeans.” [Laughs.] Get into the apartment. Grab the pot. Pull it out. I’m surethey wondered, “Who is this person?” Then they put those huge big fans in myapartment to get the smoke out. Oh my god. I still have the pan, by the way. Itwas black as black can be, but I reconditioned it nicely, use it [laughs]. Itwas crazy. It was just insane, because I got so involved in making the dress. Iremember it was pink satin. There was pink satin all over the floor at theWorkshop. That was the story that nobody knows [laughs].

NORTON:They will now.

LEVALLEY:Now they do. [Laughter.]

NORTON:Let’s see, you costumed Damn Yankees or did some.

LEVALLEY:Partially, yes.

NORTON:How about Music Man?

LEVALLEY:Music Man. Oh wow.

NORTON:That was a hard show. I was in it.

LEVALLEY:Yeah. That was a hard show. We did the other, the smaller shows together, too.

NORTON: Yeah.But that’s later.

LEVALLEY:That’s later. Okay.

NORTON: ThenOliver was I think the next show and you were in that.

LEVALLEY: Iwas in that. Yes, yes.

NORTON:What do you remember about that?

LEVALLEY: Havingto train my voice so I could sing high [laughs].  And stuffing my clothes — now I wouldn’t haveto stuff them — because I was a matronly woman who was greedy. I remember I hada line, “Gold, oh it’s gold.” [Laughs.] It was terrible probably. With BillMatuszeski. He was Mr. Bumble.

NORTON:So, you must have been Mrs. Bumble.

LEVALLEY:I was Mrs. Bumble. Yes. [Laughs.] It was fun.

NORTON:Did you costume Oliver?

LEVALLEY:I know I made my costume. I probably did. I think I was involved in pretty muchall of them somehow. But Oliver was a little easier to do because thekids, of course, wore kind of kid pants. It wasn’t like a period piece or stufflike that. Yeah.

NORTON:Do you remember? I know you said you were in it with me. We were in TheMatchmaker.

LEVALLEY: TheMatchmaker.

NORTON: Wewere the heartthrobs in the The Matchmaker.

LEVALLEY:It was you and me, babe. [Laughs.]

NORTON: Thatwas a cult classic. Everybody loved it that came, although I don’t remember iftoo many people came. What do you remember about…

LEVALLEY: Linda[Norton] was gorgeous in that.

NORTON:Yeah, she loved that.

LEVALLEY:That was a perfect role for her.

NORTON:She only wished she could sing the Carol Channing, Barbra Streisand songs. Itwas not the musical.

LEVALLEY:It was not the musical. No. I enjoyed making the hats for that. I remember Imade the fancy hats.

NORTON:As I recall, that was one that Sally really went and got everybody involved.She got an awful lot of people involved in that one.

LEVALLEY:Lot of people in there.

NORTON:That was a fun show.

LEVALLEY: Thatwas part of the thing. I mean, you got as many people in the community involvedas you could, because it was a community arts workshop. It was community based.

NORTON:It was over at Christ Church. Jean Kling, formerly Lewton, was the director.That was a fun show. You remember the other shows you were in?

LEVALLEY:No. [Laughs.] You probably have a list somewhere.

NORTON:Were you in Annie?

LEVALLEY:No. I costumed Annie, I think.

NORTON:South Pacific.

LEVALLEY:No, I think that was when I stopped doing costumes, I think South Pacific.

NORTON: Iknow Linda did costumes for South Pacific.

LEVALLEY:Yeah, oh yeah. Linda picked up when I stopped.

NORTON:Mame. Where you in Mame?

LEVALLEY:I don’t think so.

NORTON:Kiss Me Kate?


NORTON: Allright. So, you’ve gotten out of the musicals.


NORTON:How about other, the dramatic performances, other than that?

LEVALLEY: Idid a small workshop piece with, oh, what’s his name? It was a young boy. I didCandide, when we did Candide. You remember that?


LEVALLEY: [Laughs.]Oh good.

NORTON:I don’t have a great memory. I have a few cheat sheets.

LEVALLEY:I was the secretary who was supposed to be in love with the main character,unrequited of course. As I recall I didn’t do real well. It got reviewed, and Ithink I got panned. [Laughs.]

NORTON: Thatwas with your son. Ian was sort of the son in Arsenic and Old Lace. Itwas a lot of fun.

LEVALLEY:Arsenic and Old Lace.

NORTON:I was in that. But you weren’t in it, right?

LEVALLEY:I wasn’t in it, no.

NORTON:He was very good.

LEVALLEY:Yeah, he was very good.

NORTON:How long did you stay? You stayed involved with the Workshop how long?

LEVALLEY:I was involved until I left in  ’91. Iworked like 50, 60 hours a week.

NORTON: Andyou were the education director.

LEVALLEY: Directorof Education, yeah. I hired people and fired people.

NORTON:God, that must have been fun.

LEVALLEY:Hiring was fun. I only fired one person ever and that was the hardest thing Iever did because, of course, he was a friend. I’m not going to say who it was,but actually I saw him years later and he said, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, got me straight.” Sothat was good.

NORTON:Do you remember any other folks that you worked with either teaching at theArts Workshop or in shows or anything like that? How about Phil DeSellem?

LEVALLEY:Oh Phil. I loved Phil. Phil was such a good friend. I miss him. There are a lotof people I miss. [Laughs.] Bob Wenz. Bob Wenz.

NORTON:That’s right. He was in a lot of shows.

LEVALLEY:He was in a lot of shows. We sang a lot of duets. [Laughs.]

NORTON: Ibet you did.

LEVALLEY:Bob Wenz and, um. You’ve got a list there. That’s not fair.

NORTON:But I don’t have a list of people. I’m just blanking out because I’m terriblewith names too.

LEVALLEY:Oh, I’m terrible with names. I can see these people’s faces. Names just arenot…

NORTON:I know Cora Lee [Khambata] taught.

LEVALLEY: Oh,Cora Lee. Cora Lee was a marvelous teacher. Oh my god. Such a marvelous musicteacher. I learned a lot from her. So funny. I saw her years ago, and she saidthe same thing I’m saying. She says, “I learned so much from you. I thought sohighly of you.” I thought she was just marvelous. What she did with kids withmusic was magical. What an asset. Again, Sally found her. I don’t know where. Idon’t know how Sally found her, but she was wonderful. Really wonderful.

NORTON:Why did you move back to New Jersey? Was it ’91 you said?

LEVALLEY:Oh, well it was a lot of things. [Laughs.] Things were kind of getting dicey atthe Workshop. I was in love with my now husband, and he lived in New Jersey, sowe were having this long-distance relationship from ’89 ’til I finally did go backin ’91. We had been together years before, and then got back together in ’89.Yeah.

NORTON: That’sMichael, right?


NORTON:David. I’m sorry.

LEVALLEY:David Fava.

NORTON:David Fava, okay.

LEVALLEY:David Fava, yes. The day we got back together, I remember it was my niece’sgraduation and my nephew’s graduation. Hers from high school and his fromelementary school or something like that. I’m not quite sure exactly how itwent. But David came, and my horoscope for that day was “Love can be sweeterthe second time around.”

NORTON:Aw, that was nice.

LEVALLEY:That was my horoscope. My brother-in-law brought [it for] me, he found it. Hesaw it and brought it to me. Anyway. The factors that took me back were mygrandfather’s house was available and would have gone to the state if myfather, if we hadn’t gone into…

NORTON: Takeit over.

LEVALLEY:… take it over, yeah. The man I loved lived there. My mother had been quiteill, and it was making me crazy because I would actually have to leave theWorkshop. I remember saying to Sally, I said, “Sally, I have to go back to NewJersey, I won’t be here. I got to go.” Because my mother had so many ins andouts of the hospital and stuff, it made me crazy. So, I just felt like thelogical thing to do was to move back while my mom was still alive and be ableto be there for her and be there for David, with David. Of course, we broke upafter I got there, and then we got back together again. It’s like “agh!”

NORTON:And got married.

LEVALLEY:And we got married, right, right. It was very interesting.

NORTON: Thehoroscope may have been right. Now I got to ask you about the Jaynettes.

LEVALLEY:Oh, the Jaynettes.

NORTON:How did you first get involved with the Jaynettes?

LEVALLEY:I know they had done something before I got with them. They had done like abirthday party with Parker [Jayne] somewhere. I don’t know exactly whose house.You may know.

NORTON:I’m blanking on the name, too.

LEVALLEY:Anyway. Then we were going to do the revue. One of our musical revues, which wedidn’t even talk about.

NORTON:Let’s talk about musical revues.

LEVALLEY:The musical revues, yeah.

NORTON:All right. Let’s go back and talk about musical revues.

LEVALLEY:Talk about getting people involved. Holy moly.

NORTON:Because Sally had musical revues every year, right?

LEVALLEY: Eveyyear. Every year. So, there was going to be a musical revue, and Parkerapproached me and said, “Would you like to join the Jaynettes?” [Laughs.] Isaid, “Oh no, well, okay.” Duh. [Laughs.]

NORTON:It was part of the selling point that they sang rock and roll.

LEVALLEY:Yeah. Oh, I loved it, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I did choreography.

NORTON: Yes,you did. That’s right.

LEVALLEY:We did choreography, which [much to the] chagrin of Peggy [O’Brien] …[laughs].

NORTON:She pointed that out in her interview.

LEVALLEY:Oh my god. She had the hardest time. It was fun. It was such fun.

NORTON:It was fun.

LEVALLEY:I just loved those rehearsals, oh my god.

NORTON:It wasn’t just the Jaynettes, but it was the whole thing. We had to dance.Those of us that weren’t much dancers had to dance and — yeah, that was a lotof fun. Well, let’s go back and talk about some of the earlier revues. Shealways had a theme. There was always something. It was Irving Berlin or JeromeKern and those other things. What did you usually do with those? Do youremember?

LEVALLEY:I just remember singing and enjoying being on the stage. At one of them we dida tango. I think the whole crew of us did a tango, didn’t we? I think. I thinkyou were there. I think you were there!

NORTON: Idid a tango. That would be interesting.

LEVALLEY:I remember that was when Pat Martin and I were paired up to do a tango. Oh, mygod.

NORTON:I took tap dancing from Charlotte Floyd.

LEVALLEY:Oh yeah, Charlotte.

NORTON:…and Sally. I have to say that whenever I had to do dancing in these revues Ihad to dance with Sally or Charlotte. I let them lead. [Laughter.]

LEVALLEY:Oh, that’s funny. That’s great.

NORTON:There you were. A choreographer of the Silver Salute to the 60s. This is in1989. November 1989. See I do have this.

LEVALLEY:You do. I have them all upstairs somewhere in — a whole file of Arts Workshopstuff. Our newsletters, some of them, not all of them. I haven’t kept them all.Good lord.

NORTON: Youall did a set of girl group numbers.

LEVALLEY:Yes, we did. Yes, we did.

NORTON:What happened after that?

LEVALLEY: Itjust mushroomed into gigs. We did gigs all over the city. And the thing is,they were almost always to raise money for some really good cause. Adele wasvery geared toward us focusing on that kind of thing. We did stuff all over.

NORTON:But a lot of it on the Hill with…

LEVALLEY: Alot on the Hill was for the Capitol Hill Day School. I think we did the DaySchool, didn’t we? Yeah, yeah.

NORTON:And other groups and stuff.

LEVALLEY:And lots of, yes other groups. Adele had a special needs niece that we raisedmoney for. What her special need was, I forget what it was at this point.

NORTON:You all sort of developed quite the cult following on Capitol Hill.

LEVALLEY:Oh, we did. Oh my god. [Laughs.] We were a Capitol Hill phenomenon [laughs]. Wehad lots of followers [laughs]. Oh god.

NORTON:Just so we — This was Parker Jayne and the Jaynettes. There’s Parker.

LEVALLEY:Parker Jayne.

NORTON:Parker  played the keyboard.

LEVALLEY:Piano, and he arranged and rehearsed us. There was Jeff Serfass.

NORTON: Whoplayed the saxophone.

LEVALLEY:Who played the sax. He was Biff. We called him Biff [laughs]. And John…


LEVALLEY: JohnO’Brien played drums, didn’t he?

NORTON:He was the drummer initially.


NORTON:I think there were a bunch of other people who were drummers.

LEVALLEY:Parker’s daughter played guitar at one point for us.

NORTON:Really. Alice?

LEVALLEY:Alice. Good old Alice. I remember Alice when she was three taking classes. Ohmy god. That beautiful curly hair [laughs].

NORTON:So, it was you, Adele, Peggy, and Linda Norton.

LEVALLEY: Peggyand Linda Norton. Yeah. We had such a good time rehearsing. It was great. Thatwas a wonderful time.

NORTON:Then in July of 1991, you all decided you were going to just put on a partyover at Christ Church.

LEVALLEY: Right,right. Oh, yeah. We had a big old party.

NORTON:This is the Midsummer Sock Hop.

LEVALLEY:That was great. Everybody was dancing, having a good time.

NORTON:No air conditioning. There was the Christ Church parish hall before it was airconditioned. That was the fateful night that The Washington Post showedup.

LEVALLEY:Oh, that’s right. That’s right.

NORTON:And a couple weeks after that you got this article in the …

LEVALLEY:… in the paper. I was already gone. I think I was already out of here.

NORTON:You were, right.

LEVALLEY:Yes. I would come back for our rehearsals and our gigs and stuff. I was gone.

NORTON: That’strue, because you would come back, yes.

LEVALLEY:I was already in New Jersey.

NORTON: Youwere a trouper.

LEVALLEY:Ha. I loved it.

NORTON:It got in the paper and then …

LEVALLEY: Thatbig article in the paper in our baked potato dresses. [Laughs.] What I’m sayingis baked potato. They were silver. They looked like aluminum foil. [Laughter.]And Peggy O’Brien called them our baked potato dresses [Laughs].

NORTON:It seemed to be. It caught on with all the others.

LEVALLEY:Right [laughs]. Mine finally started peeling so I got rid of it. I had it inthe closet for years and years, and I looked at it at one time and it was likethe silver was peeling off of the back [laughs].

NORTON:What was the slogan? “Vintage Music from Vintage Women”?

LEVALLEY:Music by Vintage Women. That was us [laughs]. Oh god.

NORTON:You weren’t even that vintage back then.

LEVALLEY:I know. I thought about that. I thought, “Geez, we weren’t even that old.” Nowwe’re old.

NORTON:Then I gather you would come back for quite a while.

LEVALLEY:Quite a long time, yeah. I think the last thing I did was at the H StreetTheater. Adele had a big thing there. I think it was when she was leaving. Ithink it was when the theater was closing. Would that have been right?

NORTON:It’s possible, yeah.

LEVALLEY: Yeah,yeah, because I came back, and we did a performance there.

NORTON:That would have been in the 2000s, so it’s that long that you kept coming back.

LEVALLEY:Oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah. No, I was more than willing to come back. [Laughs.]

NORTON:What have you been doing to keep yourself busy up in New Jersey since you movedup there, other than commuting back for the Jaynettes?

LEVALLEY:Well, when I moved back, I guess it took me a couple of years to find a job, areal job. I substitute taught, because I had my degree in art education. So, Isubstitute taught in several public schools. I did a clay workshop at one smallschool. That was an extended period of time. Then I met my friend KarenFedericci, who was a glass artist at a craft show. Oh, I had a jewelrybusiness. I made …

NORTON:But you had that here too, hadn’t you?

LEVALLEY:Well, I made jewelry here. But this was , like I’d go to shows with tables andcanopies and oh, oh, oh, carrying all this stuff all over the place. Thatsustained me for a while and creatively it was great because I was makingobjects of art and selling them. People responded to them very well. But Ineeded something more. I thank my parents for helping out there. So, my friendKaren Federicci was doing one of the craft shows, and she was across the aislefrom me. Her son, who was about two, kept coming over to me, and we would talkand we would play and so whatever, and she would pull him back over and then hewould come back over. He now works for Tesla. Anyway, after a couple of craftshows seeing each other, she said, “There is an art opening in the VinelandPublic Schools.”


LEVALLEY: Vineland.Literally vineland, which is a very large district in South Jersey. A verymulti-cultural, perfect for me because I love the multi-cultural thing. Shesaid, “If this job is available they’ll say there isn’t one, but there is one,so get a resumé in because I think you’d beperfect.” So, I got a  resumé in, and Igot the job. So, I worked part time in the public schools and had my jewelrybusiness the other part time.

After about four years of doing that,doing clay on a cart in two or three different schools and having to take thestuff from one school to another because only one of the schools had a kiln. Imean, it was crazy. It was really crazy. I was teaching like one class a weekat this school. I was teaching at four different schools on a cart, okay? Inone school I was teaching, I was taking over a class that the regular teachercouldn’t do in their schedule, somehow. What I didn’t realize was the principal— the teacher always stayed in the room while I was teaching. This was the principalwho had said, “Stay in the room and see what she does. See how she works withthe kids.” So, after a year of doing that, I remember being in the little, tinyroom where our supplies were, and I looked at Dr. K [Louise Karwowsk] ...


LEVALLEY: Dr.K was the principal and I said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. I cannotbe in four different schools.” The next year, the other teacher was out, and Iwas in, which wasn’t my fault, but boy did it create some flak. Ooh, yeah. Theywere redistributing. They redistributed the schools somehow. So, I wound upbeing the art teacher there. Still on a cart, mind you. There was no art room.But in the next year, they put on a new addition, and I wound up with the mostbeautiful art room you could imagine. East facing windows the whole side of theroom. So much storage. I managed to fill it in 15 years, but so much storageand display area and places for the kids to sit down and read stories. I neededa kiln, and Dr.  K. said, she said, “Orderexactly what you want because we have the money now.” So, I ordered a big kilnand we did clay. Oh, we did so much. The kids did so much good stuff. It wasthe ideal art room.

NORTON:How long did you do that?

LEVALLEY:I think I was ten years in that art room. I retired at 62, because it was like“Ahh!” Of course, it was the same kind of thing. The woman who taught music,who is a dear, dear friend …

NORTON:She taught music at that school?

LEVALLEY:She taught music at that school. She had taught at the other schools while Iwas traveling around. We were traveling around together. Lucia Marone. She wasa harpist and a marvelous music teacher. Amazing. We did shows [laughs]. Shealso had been a dancer. I would do some of the choreography for shows, and I’ddo the scenery. I’d paint the scenery or do whatever we needed with the kids.The kids would come in after school. I had a little dance group. So, I justcontinued the process that I’d been in here with dancing and creating costumes.

NORTON:When you say here, at the Arts Workshop?

LEVALLEY:At the Arts Workshop. Right, right, right. It was great. I loved teaching art.I went back the year after I left, and this one little boy that I absolutelyadored, he said — it was Read Across America at schools. They had this programat schools where they come in as Dr. Seuss. You read stories to the kids andthey invited me back to read stories. This one little boy, he says, “MissLeValley, why did you leave us?” He was so distressed, you know. It was sosweet. Yeah, yeah. It was fun. But it was also time for me to stop, so I did.I’m still friends with Lucia and her daughter, who was a tiny little daughter.She’s a harpist. Her daughter’s a harpist. She still does the harp. Sheretired. She is now retired. Life goes on.

NORTON:I have just about covered all the topics I have on my little piece of paperhere. You have already interjected a couple of neat stories that I didn’t thinkto ask. Is there anything else that you can think of about the Arts Workshop orCapitol Hill and that sort of stuff?

LEVALLEY:I just wanted to fill you in on what I do now, which is ballroom dancing.

NORTON:Oh, cool.

LEVALLEY:For years I went to the gym, but it wasn’t enough. I had a thought that, well,I didn’t want to be 80 and say, “Damn, I wish I’d gone back to dancing.” So, Ifigured I have had a knee replacement. I was like I can’t dance dance, butballroom dancing is something that I can do. So, I started ballroom dancing.The director of the LaPierre Ballroom has a nonprofit called “Ballroom Dancingfor a Better You.” We go to assisted care living and work with the elderly withchair dancing or if they can get up, we dance with them if they can get up.Then we dance for them. It’s just great. Anyway, that’s where we are now.[Laughs.]

NORTON:Cool, cool. It tickles me because, of course, you’re not elderly.

LEVALLEY:Every once in a while I’ll say to Gene [Gene LaPierre], I’ll say …  we were dancing for a woman who was turning102 who had been a ballroom dancer. So, we went to her birthday party. I wasall gussied up. In fact, there’s a news clip, got on the news, channel six, Ithink. He danced with her. He and I danced together in our costumes. That wasgreat fun.

NORTON: Allright. Thank you very much. I really appreciated it. I’m going to turn off thetape.


NORTON:Thank you. I appreciated it.