Tonight was ULOB’s tribute at Dance Manhattan, where he was a teacher and a mentor and a dancer.
We had never met ULOB’s other family — members of the dance world. He had kept his life very compartmentalized. A survival instinct he learned from his refugee parents. My mother, his sister, shed some of that armor because of Dad, the happiness of her life and, I hope, her children. But back to the mystery that is ULOB.
His dance studio wanted to pay tribute to him. He was beloved. But little known. In fact, no one knew he had family or that he was a tap dancer, a ballet dancer, a Broadway dancer, a choreographer (even for the Playboy Club, Gloria Steinem forgive us) or a director, producer and writer of “Me and My Shadow” about the legendary Billy Rose.
One of the dancers said to me, “He was so giving and generous on the dance floor and so in tune with his partner, in a way that very few dancers are. But he was not someone who chit-chatted about life and family. That was separate.”
None knew that he was in an early production of Carousel:
No one knew about AROB or POULOB. Or us. We were as shocked at the outpouring of love in that dance studio as they were that there was family to celebrate his life and host the tribute. Pictures of the room before it filled up:
His age, his background, his training were all mysteries to the present day dancers. They didn’t know his stellar credentials, his serious training, his unrecognized talent. They knew him simply as Larry, an aging, endearing, dancer who must be have been something in his prime.
SOB and I arranged for the refreshments (wine and food) but one thing that was done solely by the studio was:
Who knew that others missed ULOB? During the two-hour reception, so many told us how much he touched their lives.
The studio kept him on as an instructor until he was beyond his capabilities to teach. But for most of his life he taught, and he learned from, his students.
He was a private man and no one will write a column in the New York Times Magazine about the life he lived.
But they should. And they should remember him like this: