Fountain Producing Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor is in New York this week attending a week-long festival of events celebrating the life of Fred Herko, a dancer and legendary figure in New York’s 1960s avant-garde. The program is curated by Herko biographer Gerard Forde to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Herko’s death on October 27th, 1964. Herko was a founding member of the experimental Judson Dance Theater and a figure in the Andy Warhol underground scene. When the 28-year-old dancer, high on speed, leaped naked out a friend’s fifth-floor apartment window dancing to Mozart and fell to his death in 1964, his life and death became legend.
Deborah Lawlor knew Fred Herko well. As a young dancer newly arrived in New York City in the 1960’s, she entered the East Village avant-garde dance scene and grew to know and love the charismatic Herko, sharing an apartment with him. Lawlor is now creating a theatre/dance piece called Freddie, dramatizing his blazing Icarus-like trajectory. Funded with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Freddie is scheduled to be presented by the Fountain Theatre in the fall 2015.
Even today, no one is sure if Fred Herko intended to kill himself when he jumped out of the window of his friend Johnny Dodd’s Greenwich Village apartment in 1964.
In the coming days there will be a memorial tribute at Judson Memorial Church, featuring contemporaries like the poet John Giorno, and the dancer Gus Solomons Jr who will perform a dance poem in Herko’s memory. A separate symposium will correct, says Forde, “the mythology and misreadings” around the dark-haired, handsome Herko. There will be an exhibition of pictures of Herko performing, and three of Warhol’s films that starred Herko will also be shown. Continue reading