Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Martha Nishitani Interview
Narrator: Martha Nishitani
Interviewer: Sara Yamasaki
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 15, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nmartha-01-0031

<Begin Segment 31>

SY: Were you also going to the university at this time?

MN: No. (...) I had gone to the university, and I was in my sophomore year. And then the war broke out, and so then I went to Minidoka and all that. And this was after I came back. (...) I didn't go back to the university until I got hired later on.

SY: Hired?

MN: Well, so Eleanor King stayed until around 1950 or '51. And when she left...

SY: Oh, she left for...?

MN: She left for the University of Arkansas, where she got a real interesting job, where every entering freshman had to take some of the five arts. And so they had to also take dance, and so she had a very secure position there, and so she left the studio. So I rented the area and started a school of my own. And she was supposed to do a concert for Northwest Friends of the Dance, which was an organization which sponsored dance, (...) all different kinds of dance. But since she left town, I was asked if I would fill in for her. This, I think, in the coming March. And so I got a group of about, I think there were about five of us, and I did a concert. And that felt real good to me. (...) Then in the fall, they asked me to do another concert so I did a second concert. And these concerts I had to choreograph pieces for. So then I was doing a lot of choreography. And then (...) I did a third concert at Cornish, on my own, and had to pay for every cent of it and sell tickets and everything. And then in 1954, I went back to Connecticut College to study for the summer. And when I came back, my studio was not available. And so I had to find a new studio, and that's when I moved to the University District. At the same time, I received a job as choreographer for the opera theater productions in the music department under Dr. Stanley Chapel. So I moved to the University District, a new studio and a job. But the job said, you have to go to school in order to hold this job because (...) they couldn't hire anybody from the outside. So since I (entered) school, they could hire me. That's how I got back to university. Took me twenty years, but I finally graduated. [Laughs]

SY: Oh, and you graduated and got a job.

MN: Well, no, I got the job, (first in 1954 then graduated in 1958).

SY: Well, you got the job and then graduated.

MN: (Yes), (...) I (also) had to teach my own classes. And then I was getting kinda well-known so everybody wanted a lecture, demonstration, or somebody wanted a TV program, or somebody wanted to do a concert at a college (in Bellingham) up north, and then (...) Reed College, and, oh, several different colleges wanted a concert. So I just automatically started doing a lot of concerts and a lot of programs, besides teaching and besides doing choreography for the university. And (...) I taught for three years at Helen Bush School (...).

SY: You taught dance?

MN: Yeah, I taught dance (for) all the grades in one day. It was (hard).

SY: Busy.

MN: It was hard (...) doing all that and going to school.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.