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Matteo and Carola Goya - More Resources

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Carola Goya and Matteo

By Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum

Following in the footsteps of Denishawn, Carola Goya and Matteo, co-founders and Artistic Directors of the Indo-American Dance Company and the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Dance, were two seminal American dance artists.[i] Performers, choreographers, educators and world dance scholars, the duo became famous in the 1950s for their “Dance Travelogues,” performances in which they danced and presented historical lectures on world dance traditions ranging from India to Japan, Indonesia to Spain. The Washington Post once described them as a “United Nations of dance. . . an important reminder that dance is one.”[ii] “[Their] dances,” wrote New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff, “are linked together by the indisputable fact that the United States is a nation of immigrants.”[iii] Specializing in Spanish (Escuela Bolero) and East Indian classical dance, Goya and Matteo revolutionized the way audiences worldwide (they toured the world nine times) saw and understood ethnic dance. “All dance,” Matteo believed, “is ethnic.”[iv]

CAROLA GOYA, b. New York City 1906 – d. New York City 1994

Carola Goya was born Carroll Weller, the second daughter of a concert-singer Hortense D’Arblaye and an actors’ representative, Sam Weller. She adopted the stage name of Goya in 1927 when she debuted as a solo concert dance artist at New York City’s Walter Hampden Theater.[v] Considered to have achieved a “meteoric career with others imitating her,” Goya was billed from the 1920s to the 1940s as a “popular young concert artist showing dignity and graciousness in Spanish dance.”[vi] Ms. Goya chose to specialize in Spanish Classical and regional dance styles, dancing Jotas, Fandangos, Tangos, Garrotíns and Bulerías and arranging each dance into a short solo with elaborate costuming, at times carrying a fan or donning a gaucho-style hat. While Goya attempted to stage more narrative work, such as Albeníz’s Cordóba, it was in the Spanish Classical idiom and its self-contained 3/4 bolero rhythms that she was considered to have excelled, according to dance critic John Martin.[vii] She became so famous that her every step was covered by The New York Times and The New York Herald Tribune. In 1936, she and her father were reported “missing” in Civil War Spain, unable to reach their ship in Gibraltar as they traveled south from Madrid.[viii]

Unmistakably influenced by the October, 1928 New York Town Hall appearances of La Argentina, Goya learned to choreograph and design a similar musichall concert of dozens of short solos separated by musical interludes—for piano, guitar, harp—composed by the Spanish School: Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albeníz, Enrique Granados, Ernesto Halffter.[ix] Also like La Argentina, Goya enriched her dancing with lengthy castanet solos that she played both as accompaniment to Jotas and Sevillanas and, as in her appearances with symphony orchestras, as solo instruments in their own right.[x] While the two women never met, Goya clearly respected and emulated La Argentina; not only her program designs but also the Spaniard’s modernist sensibility.

While it may seem unusual to discuss two artists from different sides of the Atlantic simultaneously, Goya cannot be properly understood outside of the context of the Spanish modernism invented by La Argentina. The American critic Joseph T. Shipley illuminates this point. Having seen La Argentina’s 1928 New York City tour and Goya’s 1932 performance, Shipley wrote an article entitled “Comparing Goya---Argentina. He writes: 

There is no doubt, if one may judge by her audiences’ enthusiasm, that La Argentina can castanet to snare the heart of every Spaniard. . .the superbly-handled castanets, together or singly carry the movement along. . . [They] tell her story. . . one may often close one’s eyes and listen to her dance. Try this with Carola Goya: you are not misled, but neither are you led . . . With Carola Goya these devices subserve another end: they ripple a running comment alongside the dance making mischief of an otherwise serious intention. . . The deepest difference between La Argentina and Carola Goya is, throughout as with the castanets, not in the degree but in the direction of their artistry. The Spaniard, perhaps because of her intimacy with the popular dance, rises from it by a deliberate and perceived technique. . .La Goya’s manner is more hoyden, less arch than La Argentina’s; her equally demure bearing hides a more willing romp. On the stage she seems confined, held down; cries half-leap from her, to die in the throat.[xi]

An unlikely Spanish dance artist, slim and reserved—lacking in the necessary passion and sensuous abandon—Goya honed her dancing skills between the late 1920s and early 1930s and her retirement from the stage in the 1980s, earning slowly the respect of skeptical American dance critics.[xii] John Martin of The New York Times noted in 1935, “However much one may feel that she is by nature not ideally endowed for Spanish dancing with its emotional richness and earthiness, it cannot be denied that she has made notable strides toward the perfection of a style of her own and that she is an excellent showman.[xiii] By 1937, Martin recognized worthy changes in her dancing: “Year by year, Carola Goya has grown in craftsmanship and smoothness of performance until she has attained a maturity in her chosen art which leaves little room for comment.”[xiv] Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Goya was a known name at esteemed concert halls such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall and Town Hall and throughout America, touring frequently with her sister, harpist Beatrice Weller Burford.

A student of Michel Fokine, Goya had appeared with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet at the age of fourteen. Goya later credited Fokine with “giving her a feeling for music as well as for movement.”[xv] Spanish dance, she noted, “would give her [the] opportunity to express her individuality and originality.”[xvi] By the age of sixteen, Goya traveled to Seville’s Gran Academia del Baile where she had studied castanets and Spanish Classical dance with the famous Sevillian maestro, Manuel del Castillo Otero.  

In 1936, Goya danced before Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House at the Ambassadors’ Banquet. In 1947, José Greco, then in Madrid, asked her to join his new company, José Greco Dance Company. Goya accepted, touring Europe and the Americas with Greco from 1947 and 1951.[xvii] By 1952, Goya was billed as a guest solo artist. Upon meeting Matteo, Goya left Greco’s company remaining with Matteo for the next forty years.

Like Matteo, Goya became a teacher “in demand.”[xviii] Maturing as a solo artist well into her fifties, John Martin remarked that she “is a warmer and even more gracious artist than she used to be and it is very easy to like her. It is also a decided pleasure to hear her play the castanets which she does with unusual skill.”[xix]

MATTEO, b. Utica, New York 1919 – d. of a stroke at the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home, Englewood, N.J. 2011

Matteo once said, “Show me a dance and I’ll show you what kind of king or government you have. . . Ethnic dance is our oldest form and it has always been the step-child. . .Ethnic dance is any dance born of the people and that includes folk and classical forms. . .If you keep the technique perfect and if you have respected and really learned it, you can depart from it as a distillation of something pure. . .The ethnic dancer says ‘we,’” not I, and is therefore reflective of the character of a nation.[xx] Dancer, choreographer, beloved teacher, and world dance scholar Matteo taught international audiences to appreciate, understand and love dance. Describing himself as “one-third scholar, one-third human, and one-third dancer,” Matteo emerged as a solo ethnic dance artist at the start of the Cold War and as a company director during the Civil Rights Protests of the 1960s, preaching a humanistic message that dance must be understood as fundamental to human society and cross-cultural understanding.[xxi] He wholeheartedly believed the revolution that he was igniting was just beginning.[xxii]

Matteo was by no means the first American dance artist to embrace the East as a path to spiritual awakening and self-knowledge (he is preceded by Ruth St. Denis, La Meri and Ted Shawn) Matteo was deeply influenced by his teacher, La Meri (1899 – 1988), absorbing into his pedagogy her notion that Indian dance must be translated, absorbed into western styles of dance and thus made “readable” as a cross-cultural dance text as in her famous Bharata Natyam Swan Lake.[xxiii]

Described by Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times as “a lean and strong performer,” Matteo revolutionized the way people think about and perceive world dance; not as something exotic or inaccessible to the average American. To Matteo, world dance or what he termed “ethnic dance” concerns all of us. Matteo’s unique approach to teaching Indian dance centered on the use of gesture, facial expression, pose, and movement style. Each dance, he explained to students, while distinct, shared a common philosophy.

In 1961, he introduced the teaching of “ethnic dance” to New York City public schools. “He had a unique vision of how to impart to East Indian and Spanish dance,” recalls former Matteo dancer Matthew Diamond.[xxiv] “Bharata Natyam is a mental, physical and spiritual challenge to the kids,” Matteo once remarked.[xxv] “Natya is the Indian word for dance.”[xxvi] Working at the barre, Matteo reasoned, meant training one half of the body at a time. “This is a method,” Matteo once wrote for the New York Yoga Society, “based on the Natya Shastras that directly imparts a bodilyawareness by the application of the intricate movements and dramatic expressions of Bharata Natyam.”[xxvii] “If Americans now possess a serious interest in ethnic dance,” wrote Jack Anderson, “that may be because artists such as Matteo first intrigued them with their ethnic dance samplers.”[xxviii]

Matteo was born Matthew M. Vittucci in Utica, New York. He served in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. One of four brothers, he grew up “in an impoverished Italian family. . .” Matteo “played records to which the little girls in the neighborhood danced folk dances.”[xxix]  “’Since I was too poor to study, I decided to teach. Each week I’d push back the rug and we’d have a Spanish night or an Egyptian night. I didn’t know what castanets were so I used clam shells.”[xxx]

He attended Cornell University where he created a folk dance troupe and earned a B.S. He later earned an M.S. in Dance Education at the Center for Ethnologic Dance at Springfield College. While performing and choreographing was significant in shaping his artistic life, teaching made up the other half of his identity. From the 1960s to the 1990s, he taught at New York University, Connecticut College, Beaupre Creative Arts Center, the American Dance Festival, Hunter college, New York Center Opera, Main Folk Dance Camp, Oberlin College, Logan State University, Howard University, Finch College, SUNY-Purchase, Utah State University, the arm of the H.S. for the Performing Arts, and the First Church of Religious Science, where he was also a member.[xxxi] 

After graduating from Cornell, he began a serious study of ballet, auditioned and was accepted into the Metropolitan Opera Ballet where he danced from 1946 to 1950. In 1949, upon seeing La Meri perform in a lecture-demonstration at New York City’s Museum of Natural History, he decided that he would pursue ethnic dance in earnest, but he remained until 1950 with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet before setting off on his own as a solo concert artist.[xxxii]

In 1950, Matteo launched his solo career, “perpetuating La Meri’s concept of the universality of dance, as seen in her blending of Eastern and Western Dance forms,” and combining it with the strength and technical virtuosity of a finely trained ballet dancer.[xxxiii] In 1953, La Meri cast him as The Gypsy beside Ted Shawn’s Spectre in El Amor Brujo (Love the Sorcerer). Several months later, he and Carola Goya premiered their first collaborative concert at Carnegie Hall. Entitled “Spain and Ethnic Dances,” the show was a smashing success. By 1954, the couple had danced at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a show called “Dances of Spain.” The show already contained separate dances from countries both Matteo and Goya had toured.

Three years later, Matteo and Goya began teaching choreography from their shows: Spanish, Hindu and regional folkdances of the world. By 1957, they appeared at New York’s Spanish Institute where they performed their first duo lecture-demonstration entitled “The Dances of Spain and their Origins.” Quickly, both Matteo and Goya were demonstrating to both the public and the New York City critics that their approach to “Ethnic Dances” symbolized an intellectually and aesthetically rigorous departure from early twentieth-century orientalist approaches to “the East.” Matteo avoided at all costs any hint of a Bharata Natyam or Flamenco dance that smacked of colonial theft, instead preferring to rechoreograph large sections of Indian or Spanish classical dance.

Ted Shawn invited Matteo and Goya to Jacob’s Pillow again in 1957, this time as teachers in the summer dance institute where Matteo, for the next nine summers, developed a similar teaching platform to the one he had used at the High School of the Performing Arts. Between 1957 and 1966, the couple became mainstays of the Pillow, teaching, directing and performing. There, in the peace of Beckett, Massachusetts, Matteo developed for the Pillow an intensive curriculum in East Indian and Spanish dance. Performing on the same program in the late 1950s and 1960s with flamenco and Spanish Classical greats, artists of the caliber of Ximenez-Vargas and Maria Alba, Matteo and Goya gained enough of a reputation at home to brave an Indian tour.[xxxiv]

In 1958, they left for Marwar Province, performing the first of many East Indian dramas that combined Bharata Natyam with other styles of Indian dance such as Kathak and Odissi. As each Indian performance was accompanied by lecture-demonstrations, even the Indian press gave them their due. “In Madras, a newspaper [The Mail] reported that Matteo gave ‘a pure and faultless rendering of Natanamadinar, the tour de force of any Bharata Natyam suite.’[xxxv] And in the words of New York Herald Tribune dance critic Walter Terry, Matteo’s gestural interpretations of Hindu mythology “suggested that the song, conceived ‘in the dance language of Indian mudras’ represented a ‘real confluence of East and West.’”[xxxvi] Entitling their Indian premiere, “A World of Dancing,” Matteo and Goya were referred to by the Governor of Madras as “dedicated messengers and eloquent exponents of the unity of the world in the midst of its diversity who paid us tribute by bringing to us art forms which drew their original inspiration from the timeless fountains of India’s dance.”[xxxvii]

In the spirit of the 1960s, Matteo gave talks on the psychology, aesthetics and spirituality of Indian dance and began connecting his performances to his spiritual narration. Lectures were entitled “Dance as Prayer,” “The Psychology and Aesthetics of Movement,” “Shiva, the Lord’s Prayer,” “Spiritual Expression in Dance,” and “The Use of Ethnic Sources in Sacred Dance.” He gave lectures for the international organizations of dance history and was never to be missed at other people’s concerts and dance-lectures. His program notes were mini-lectures, replete with the historiography of a dancing pose or expression, symbolic of his basic philosophy that we all deserve to—and can—understand dance if taught. Funny and entertaining, Matteo was beloved by audiences, whether he was dancing a Farruca or explaining the spirituality of a gesture.

The Partnership of Matteo and Carola Goya

Matteo and Goya met at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the summer of 1953, when they were co-cast by La Meri in the Spanish pantomime-ballet El Amor Brujo.[xxxviii] No one could have predicted how fortuitous this chance meeting would be; Goya and Matteo became lifelong collaborators, igniting an ethnic dance revolution in the United States, touring dances from India, Ceylon, Bavaria, Scotland, Spain, Italy and Japan to every small town in America. Between 1954 and 1966, they are believed to have traveled 225,000 miles, some of it driving in their white Pontiac stationwagon.[xxxix]  In 1974, they married. She was sixty-eight, he fifty-four.

Ms. Goya was an established star by the time she met Matteo, having achieved international fame by 1934. Billed as “one of the most popular young dancers in the country today. An authority on the historical aspect of her art,” Goya played to sold-out houses during the Great Depression.[xl] Becoming a virtuosic castanet-player, Goya carried forward in America La Argentina’s mission: to use castanets as orchestral instruments in their own right.[xli]

Goya shared with Matteo valuable knowledge of the concert stage, of touring, and of the entertainment business. Her study of Spanish and flamenco dance in Spain became a model, not only for younger dance artists, but also for Matteo. By virtue of her ethnographic commitment to dances from other lands – dances one traveled to learn – Goya supported her new partner.

Matteo was to impart similar gifts to Goya: his study of East Indian dance deepened her stylistic approach to Spanish dance; his partnering enabled Carola, already a seasoned performer, to transform herself as a dancer; she had never had a partner before. With Matteo beside her, Goya, by then in her fifties, appeared musical and knowledgeable. Gypsy Flamenco dances such as the Farruca and Bulerías, dances that had never come easily to Goya, now sizzled with the duo’s infectious energy, humor and combined technical skill.

Throughout the late 1950s, Matteo matured as an artist and performer. While he added Scottish, German and Indonesian dances to his existing Indian repertory, Goya too evolved discovering new possibilities for her body in the dances of Mexico and the Caribbean. They added dozens of Latin American dances to their programs, while keeping Spanish classical dance the mainstay of Goya’s work. Goya continued to explore the hundreds of regional folk dances of Spain. Distinct in style and bearing, Matteo and Ms. Goya became an electric combination; Matteo regal and masculine, stylized and refined; Goya feminine, at times unassuming. Their shows sold out large-scale New York theaters like the Ziegfield even on snowy nights.

Beloved by audiences and respected by the New York dance press, they danced and toured consistently throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, each year adding new dances to their global dance library. They appeared on television, radio, in museums and at conferences. Matteo gave short lectures between dances, giving audiences, young and old, the cultural and historical context surrounding each work. Generous in spirit, the message imparted by their performances and lecture-demonstrations was that dance was a window to the world.

By the time of their deaths, Goya at the age of eighty-eight in 1994, and Matteo at the age of ninety-two in 2011, they had achieved more than most artists dream of: a company, a foundation, nine world tours and dozens of national tours and thousands of students bearing the mark of their pedagogy. They were invited artists at the Asia Society, The Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Ethical Culture Society, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival where they constituted the Ethnic Dance Department. Matteo had become a member of the Utica Teachers’ Union in 1958 and taught consistently [at P.S. 40, the High School of the Performing Arts – where he was encouraged by the Chairman of the Dance Department, Dr. RachaelDunaven Yocom, to begin the School’s first Ethnic Dance emphasis in 1954 - Finch College, New York University, American Theater Wing and Utah State University.][xlii]

Between 1961 and 1965, the couple toured India quite successfully, appearing as guests of local provincial governors and selling out theaters. By 1966, the duo was invited by the U.S. State Department to dance in India. In Madras, Matteo studied with Bharata Natyam guru Balasaraswati. Transformed by his work with her, Matteo returned to the U.S. and developed an East Indian dance curriculum accessible to western students of dance. Matteo taught not only the positions of the body but the interrelationship between the Sanskrit alphabet, yoga, gesture and meditation. Each component became a necessary link in the training of a westerner in the aesthetics of East Indian dance.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Matteo evolved a system of teaching classical Indian dance to children that “imparted a bodily awareness by the application of intricate movements and dramatic expressions” found in Bharata Natyam.[xliii] “Hatha Yoga and Natya Yoga serve the individual in the esthetic discipline of Bharata Natyam” and, therefore, of dance art practice.[xliv] (Matteo) Matteo described his technical philosophy of teaching as “comparable to the science and practice of Hatha yoga.”[xlv] 

Their artistic identities were also shaped by their intellectual curiosity. Matteo and Goya published articles and books on world dance, in particular, Spanish dance. In 1929, Goya published her first article in the New York Evening Post, entitled “Easter in Seville. Most Spectacular Religious Festival.” She published a second significant article in 1933 entitled “The Truth About Spanish Dancing,” in the Journal of Health & Physical Education in which she argues for a resuscitation of the authentic Spanish dance rendered decadent by burlesque dancers. In 1957, Goya published her third important article entitled in which she distinguishes the Spanish classical school from Gypsy flamenco.[xlvi]

Matteo’s published work, while influenced to a great extent by his collaborative partnership with Goya, moved in tandem with his deep interest in history and religion. With Goya as co-writer, Matteo turned his attention to books, publishing two: Woods that Dance (1968), in the noted dance publication series Dance Perspectives, in which he traces the historical development of the castanets throughout the Mediterranean and Asia and develops a notation system for learning to play them; and The Language of Spanish Dance (1990), a scholarly encyclopedic resource on the dances of Spain’s forty-nine provinces, their timing and socio-cultural and historical significance.

Blessed by the beginning of the National Endowment of the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts, their company and foundation were well-funded and, for a time, their vision—that world dance should be taken as seriously as classical ballet or modern dance—was realized.

Both Carola and Matteo dedicated their lives to the auspicious purpose of teaching and performing ethnic dance. Ultimately, they believed that ethnic dance educates, heals and transforms human society.


i Matteo was the Artistic Director of the Indo-American Dance Company and Carola Goya was his Assistant Director and costume designer. Carola guested with the company in its early years. The company was founded in 1967 with the graduating class of dancers from the Ethnic Division of the H.S. of Performing Arts, a program Matteo created in 1961. In 1970, the company’s name changed to the IndoAmerican Performing Arts Center of New York and was located under the umbrella of Matteo’s and Goya’s Foundation for Ethnic Dance. As part of a Foundation structure, the Indo-American Dance Company received New York State Council on the Arts funding from 1968 to 1969 and a series of NEA grants beginning in 1971, enabling the six-to-ten member group to tour widely within the U.S. and abroad.

ii Press Release. No date. Matteo/Carola Goya. [MGZB. Matteo-Clippings File. NYPL – Dance Collection.” 

iii Anna Kisselgoff. “Matteo Dances Capture Folk Traditions,” The New York Times (4 April 1975).

iv Jennifer Dunning. “Matteo’s Artful Ethnic Mix,” The New York Times (28 January 1979): 6.

v Jack Anderson. “Carola Goya, 88, an Authority on Spanish Dance Forms Dies,” The New York Times (17 May, 1994): B8; Betty Walker. “It All Began in Manhattan for Senorita of Seville, Chicago Sun-Times (5 February, 1952): Sec. 2, p. 4.

vi [MGZR Goya Clippings File, NYPL-Dance Collection.] Between 1934 and 1935, Goya performed forty-five shows in the U.S. The next year, she performed sixty-two.

vii John Martin. “Recitals Offered by Three Dancers,” The New York Times (1 February 1937). 

viii “Carola Goya Still Missing in Spain,” The New York Times (3 August 1936).

ix For more information on the seminal career of La Argentina (1888 – 1936), see: Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum. Antonia Mercé, ‘La Argentina’: Flamenco & the Spanish Avant-Garde (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2000).

x Goya’s programs read like La Argentina’s. Her 1928 – 1929 season at Carnegie Hall, following the 1928 tour of La Argentina to the U.S., include the following dances of La Argentina’s: La Vida Brève, Danza No. 5, Cordóba, España, Triana, El Amor Brujo and Goyescas. La Argentina toured America in 1916, 1917, 1920, 1928 – 1929, 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1935.

xi Joseph T. Shipley. “Comparing Goya--- Argentina,” American Dancer, April 1932.

xii In a 1933 article entitled “The Truth of Spanish Dancing,” Goya argued that Spanish dancers performing in vaudeville and revue houses had “desecrate[d] the Spanish dance” with qualities “not inherent in the dance,” such as exaggerations and that what was being performed “had very little relationship to the authentic dances of Spain.” This neoprimitivist argument – inherently a search for authenticity - also reflected in La Argentina’s writing and lecturing of the time, may explain why Goya’s own dancing appeared so reserved. See: Carola Goya. “The Truth About Spanish Dancing.”

xiii John Martin. “Carola Goya Seen in Spanish Dances,” The New York Times (30 December 1935).

xiv John Martin. “Recitals Offered by Three Dancers,” The New York Times. (1 February 1937).

xv Carola Goya quoted by Betty Walker in “It All Began in Manhattan for Señorita of Seville,” Chicago Sun-Times (5 February 1952): Section 2, p. 4.

xvi Betty Walker.

xvii Jack Anderson. In 1949, Greco wrote to Goya from Madrid, inviting her to join the company he was forming. See: Betty Walker. “It All Began in Manhattan.”

xviii Ibid.

xix John Martin. “The Dance: Carola Goya,” The New York Times (31 January 1955).

xx Matteo quoted by Jennifer Dunning.

“Matteo’s Artful Ethnic Mix,” The New York Times (28 January 1979): 6. xxi Matteo quoted by Jennifer Dunning.

xxii Telephone interview with former IndoAmerican Company member Matthew Diamond. Monday, October 24, 2011.

xxiii Ruth St. Denis and La Meri founded The School of Natya in 1940 in which they taught world dance. La Meri published a definitive history of Spanish dance entitled Spanish Dancing (1948).

xxiv Telephone interview with former IndoAmerican Dance Co. member, Matthew Diamond. Monday, October 24, 2011.

xxv Matteo quoted by Amy Lee. “Bharata Natya: South Indian Dance,” The Christian Science Monitor (May 22, 1970): 19.

xxvi Ibid. Students mastered 9 eye, 7 brow, 4 cheek, 4 nostril, 9 head, 9 chin and 12 movements of the mouth. See: Harriet Gottlieb. “Matteo Dance.” No date. [MGZR – Matteo-Clippings File. NYPL-Dance Collection.]

xxvii Matteo. Natya-Yoga. Yoga Society of New York brochure. [MGZR – Matteo Clippings File. NYPL-Dance Collection.]

xxviii Anna Kisselgoff. “Obituary - Matteo,” The New York Times (28 March 2011); Jack Anderson. “Dance: Matteo Troupe Offers Ethnic Samplers,” The New York Times (14 February 1980).

xxix Jennifer Dunning. “Matteo’s Artful Ethnic Mix,” The New York Times (28 January 1979): 6.  

Matteo’s brothers, Angelo, Rocco and Raymond Vittucci, predeceased him. See: “Matteo M. Vittucci,” Utica ObserverDispatch (10 April 2011).

xxx Matteo quoted by Jennifer Dunning. “Matteo’s Artful Ethnic Mix,” The New York Times (28 January 1979): 6.  

xxxi Tinsley Crowder. “Namaste: Matteo & the Indo-American Dance Co., Dance Magazine (February 1972).

xxxii Jennifer Dunning. Matteo achieved La Meri’s Ethnologic Dance Center’s Artist’s Diploma (on East 59th street) in 1949. La Meri remained open until 1956. She later moved her teaching to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts where she offered summer intensives in ethnic dance.

xxxiii Jennifer Dunning. “Matteo’s Artful Ethnic Mix,” The New York Times (28 January 1979): 6. Matteo studied with La Meri six hours per day. La Meri choreographed Swan Lake in the Bharata Natyam Indian Classical dance style.

xxxiv Matteo and Goya shared several programs with Ximenez-Vargas at Jacob’s Pillow entitled “A Prelude to All Spanish Week” and “Spain in Review” July 20 – 22, 1958. Intended for students of the University of the Dance at Jacob’s Pillow, the shared international program through dance and lecture was meant to explain the many cultures that have touched the Iberian Peninsula: Moorish, East Indian, Celtic, Hebraic and Gypsy flamenco. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Press Release by Hal Abbey, Press Rep. [MGZR – Matteo/Goya Clippings File, NYPL – Dance Collection.]  

xxxv Walter Terry. “When Americans Go Indian,” New York Herald Tribune (3 May 1964). By a Ballet Critic. ”Ethnic Dancers Excel,” The Mail, Madras, (6 February 1964): “Matteo’s narration of the origin and content of each dance raised him to a level far more than that of a performer.”

xxxvi Ibid.

xxxvii Walter Terry.

xxxviii La Meri (1899 – 1998) and Ted Shawn assumed the leading roles of Candelas and the Spectre. The work was originally conceived of, re-orchestrated and premiered by Antonia Mercé, La Argentina in Paris in 1928. Borrowing loosely from La Argentina, La Meri cast Carola Goya as Lucia, a role that La Argentina often played. She cast Matteo as the Gypsy.

xxxix Harmon Smith. “Hitting the Road,” Dance Magazine (December 1963): 29.

xl Editor’s Note. “The Truth About Spanish Dancing,” by Carola Goya. The Journal of Health and Physical Education. vol. 4, no. 1 (January 1933). Like La Argentina who sought to rescue Gypsy and Spanish dancing from the burlesque hall, in her article Goya argues that the “vulgarized” Spanish dance that exists in vaudeville and revue houses must be saved.

xli Goya recorded sixteen castanet solos.

xlii Program notes. Utah State University Summer Quarter performance. August 13, 1968. [MGZB – Matteo Clippings file. NYPLDance Collection.]

xliii Matteo. Natya-Yoga. Yoga Society of New York brochure. [MGZR – Matteo Clippings File. NYPL-Dance Collection.]

xliv Ibid.

xlv Matteo. Natya-Yoga. Yoga Society of New York brochure. [MGZR – Matteo Clippings File. NYPL-Dance Collection.]

xlvi See: Jack Anderson. “Dancer’s Bookshelf,” Dance Magazine (January 1969).

Woods That Dance was reprinted in 1968 as a book by Dance Perspectives with Matteo as a single author.

Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum, Associate Professor of Theater & Dance and native of New Mexico, is a dance historian, choreographer and performance theorist. She holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A. in History and Art History from Swarthmore College. Her first book, Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina”: Flamenco & the Spanish Avant-Garde (Wesleyan), is a biography of the great modernist Spanish dance artist La Argentina. Her second book, Carmen, a Gypsy Geography (Wesleyan 2013), traces a genealogical history of the Gypsy flamenca dancer from the lands of the ancient Middle East to Hispano-Arab and Sephardic Spain. She has written on dance and culture for The Village Voice, The New York Times, Dance Research Journal and The Denver Post and is a Contributing Editor for Dance Magazine. Currently, she serves as the National Director of Dance History for American Ballet Theatre, where she teaches ABT, ABT II and pre-professional dancers. In 2009, she left Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus and joined the Department of Theater & Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009.


Selected Resources for Further Research

Books & Articles

Anderson, Jack. “Carola Goya, 88, an Authority on Spanish Dance Forms Dies.” The New York Times, 17 May 17, 1994.

-----.“Dancer’s Bookshelf.” Dance Magazine, January 1969. Print.

Bennahum, Ninotchka. Antonia Mercé, ‘La Argentina’: Flamenco & the Spanish Avant-

Garde. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2000. Print.

“Ethnic Dancers Excel.” The Mail, Madras, February 6, 1964.

-----. “Flamenco.” Oxford International Encyclopedia of Dance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998; p. 200.

 “Carola Goya Still Missing in Spain.” The New York Times, August 3, 1936.

Crowder, Tinsley. “Namaste: Matteo & the Indo-American Dance Company.” Dance Magazine, February, 1972.

Dunning, Jennifer. “Matteo’s Artful Ethnic Mix,” The New York Times, January 28, 1979.

Gottlieb, Harriet. “Matteo Dance.” No date. [MGZR – Matteo-Clippings File. NYPL Dance Collection.]

-----.“Is It Spanish or Flamenco Dance?” Dance Magazine, February, 1957.

-----. “The Truth About Spanish Dancing.” The Journal of Health and Physical Education. vol. 4, no. 1, January, 1933.

---. Carola Goya and Matteo. Dance Clip. Jacob’s Pillow. 1963.

Greco, José. The Gypsy in My Soul. Garden City, N.J.: Doubleday, 1977.

Kisselgoff, Anna. “Matteo Dances Capture Folk Traditions.” The New York Times, April 4, 1975.

La Meri. Dance as an Artform: Its History and Development. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., Inc, 1933.

-----. Hamsa-Rani. Choreography. Jacob’s Pillow, 1951.

-----. The Gesture Language of the Hindu Dance. New York: B. Blom, 1941.

-----. “Possibilities for Presenting Ethnic Dance.” Arabesqué, v. 8, no. 1, May-June 1982.

Lee, Amy. “Bharata Natya: South Indian Dance,” The Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 1970.

Martin, John. “Carola Goya Seen in Spanish Dances.” The New York Times,December 30, 1935.

-----.“Recitals Offered by Three Dancers.” The New York Times, February 1, 1937.

“Matteo M. Vittucci.” Utica Observer-Dispatch, April 10, 2011.

Matteo. The Language of Spanish Dance. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.

-----. Natya-Yoga. Yoga Society of New York brochure. [MGZR – Matteo Clippings File. NYPL-Dance Collection.

-----. Woods That Dance. New York: Dance Perspectives Foundation, 1968.

Shipley, Joseph T. “Comparing Goya-Argentina.” American Dancer, April, 1932.

Sorrel, Walter. The Dance Has Many Faces. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1992.

Terry, Walter. “When Americans Go Indian.” New York Herald Tribune,  May 3, 1964.

Walker, Betty. “It All Began in Manhattan for Señorita of Seville.” Chicago Sun-Times, February 5, 1952.


The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library holds archival materials relating to Matteo and Carola Goya, including clippings, programs and papers:

Carola Goya and Matteo Programs, 1920s – 1970s. MGZB Carola Goya and Matteo. Matteo.

Carola Goya and Matteo Papers, 1944 – 2000. MGZMD 292.

Goya, Carola. Gloria a España. Sound Recording. LPA Labels. 33 1/3 rpm. Madrid. S. I. 195?.