Husband Edward Maisel

Queer Places:
Gotham Book Mart, 41 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
201 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016

Betty Cage (1917 - December 19, 1999) was an administrator of the New York City Ballet who played a quiet but important role in creating the company. She joined City Ballet in 1947 and became its "labor negotiator, certified public accountant, legal expert, mother superior, confessor, psychiatrist," in the words of Lincoln Kirstein, City Ballet's general director.

Her title for many years was simply general manager, but Ms. Cage was a linchpin of the City Ballet. She avoided the limelight and was unknown to the balletgoing public. A woman of few words, she presided over generations of dancers, choreographers and backstage personnel with a wryly detached wit and a calm, almost uncanny sense of approaching trouble.

Cage was, as Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder of the City Ballet, described her role in ''Thirty Years,'' his history of the organization, ''at once labor negotiator, certified public accountant, legal expert, mother superior, confessor, psychiatrist and practicing witch (white magic).'' She was, Kirstein wrote, ''proficient in the science and pursuit of the possible and impossible.''

Born in Minneapolis, Cage grew up in Buffalo, then moved to New York. In school, John Bernard Myers was friend with Edward Maisel, who would later publish a biography of the composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes, and was to marry Betty Cage, who knew both Myers and Maisel from Buffalo and lived downstairs Myers in New York and worked for View, edited by Parker Tyler and Charles Henri Ford, as well (a job Myers found for her).

In New York, Cage was an assistant to Frances Steloff at the Gotham Book Mart, jobs that gained her entry into the world of New York poets, artists and intellectuals involved in dance in the 1940's.

It is likely that Kirstein met Cage at the Gotham Book Mart, where he is said to have invited her to work with Ballet Society, a precursor to City Ballet. Cage arrived in 1947 and retired in 1985. Her first job there was as an assistant to Frances Hawkins, the business manager at Ballet Society. It was there that Cage formed a close professional relationship with Morton Baum, who, as chairman of the City Center's finance committee in 1948, extended a crucial invitation to the ballet company to become a resident of the theater. Cage also helped to engineer the City Ballet's 1964 move to Lincoln Center. In 1985, she founded the Dancers Emergency Fund at City Ballet.

 Cage was an avid practitioner of tai chi, the Chinese system of movement. She collaborated with her husband, Edward Maisel, on ''Tai Chi for Health,'' published in 1972. Cage also taught unofficial tai chi classes at the City Ballet-affiliated School of American Ballet.

She died on December 19, 1999, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. She was 82 and lived in Manhattan. She was survived by her husband, Edward Maisel, an internationally known writer on music and t'ai chi. .


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