824 Buck Ln, Haverford, PA 19041
Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Sumter County, Florida, USA, Plot: 321, 0, 721
José “Pete” Martinez-Berlanga (March 13, 1913 - January 30, 1997) was a male dancer with whom Lincoln Kirstein maintained a liaison until his marriage. Martinez was from Los Angeles, where he had received his early dance training, and had entered the School of American Ballet as soon as he came to New York. Kirstein and he lived together, and when Lincoln Kirstein married Fidelma Cadmus in 1941, she moved into their apartment with them temporarily. Robert McVoy was a fellow dancer of Pete Martinez in Lincoln Kirstein’s company. Theodore "Ted" Starkowski was George Platt Lynes's lover. Mel Fillini was a Broadway actor. Ralph McWilliams was the new “addition” to the circle of friends after Pete Martinez went away to Norfolk searching for being enlisted.
José Martinez, who died in 1997, less than a year after Lincoln Kirstein, was a droll and witty young man of Mexican origin. Those who knew the two men in the 1930s said he was capable of endlessly amusing his lover, and that of all the men in his life, Martinez was the man that Kirstein most likely loved the most. Kirstein loved gossip and other men’s tales of their sexual exploits, and this love of storytelling drew him to Martinez. In addition, Martinez was handsome, and many artists painted, drew, and photographed him. Fidelma Cadmus drew him, Paul Cadmus drew and painted him, and George Platt-Lynes created a beautiful series of photos of him nude in a windowlike aperture, wearing a large straw hat.
Martinez was a member of Ballet Caravan. Organized by Kirstein, this company toured the United States, visiting many smaller cities as well as large ones. Their repertoire was very different from the classical companies, Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russe and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the two offshoot companies from the original Sergei Diaghilev companies. Other young male dancers added to the company during this period were Nicholas Magallanes and Francisco Moncion, both of Latin American origin and both of whom were to remain with George Balanchine and Kirstein throughout their long careers. Magallanes was discovered by Kirstein’s painter friend Pavel Tchelitchev, roaming the streets of New York. Tchelitchev not only used him as central figure in his large painting Phenomena, but brought him to Kirstein to study dance. He immediately showed talent and became one of the leading dancers of what eventually became the New York City Ballet.
José Pete Martinez, 1937, by George Platt Lynes
José Pete Martinez, 1937, by George Platt-Lynes
José Pete Martinez and Paul Cadmus, 1942, by PaJaMa
José Pete Martinez by Paul Cadmus
Francisco “Frank” Moncion said that as a young teenager he was walking down the street minding his own business when Lincoln Kirstein passed by and shouted, “Hey, kid, want to be a dancer?” Kirstein undoubtedly had an eye for talent, for Moncion was also to become an important lead dancer with the company.
Pete Martinez was born Jose Martinez-Berlanga in March 13, 1913. He was also sometimes known as Pete Stefan. Mexican born, he was raised in California where he received his early dance training. He moved to New York and immediately joined the School of American Ballet. While there he met, and began an intimate relationship with, Lincoln Kirstein, founder of the American Ballet Company. Pete was also a member of the company. When Lincoln married Fidelma Cadmus, sister of painter Paul Cadmus, in 1941, she moved in with both Lincoln and Pete. Three continues to live together until 1942 when Pete tried to enlist in the army, but was denied. He then moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania to work at a Jewish refugee hostel where he decided he would wait to be drafted.
Christopher Isherwood also worked with Pete at the hostel, they had previously met through Lincoln in 1939. Chris's diaries give a detailed description of their months in Pennsylvania, including mention of several trips to New York to visit Lincoln and Fidelma. Although it is assumed that the majority of their time in Haverford was platonic, it is clear from Chris's diaries that they greatly enjoyed each other’s company and had at least one sexual encounter in August of 1942. Both Christopher and Pete left Haverford in September and went their separate ways, but they continued their friendship and met again at various times in New York and California.
He was briefly in California in 1943, when he met Christopher again, before leaving to fight in Northern France until 1945. When he returned Pete continued to dance until 1947 when an injury required him to retire. He became a teacher and opened his own studios in Norfolk, VA, Ohio and eventually California where he worked until the 1960's. He died in California in January 30, 1997.
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