BETTY MACDONALD BATCHELLER, 92, a talented member of Martha Graham's first dance company and a Broadway actress, died January 15 in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Macdonald began her artistic career as a student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Martha Graham, who was co-directing the new dance department, chose Macdonald and fellow students Thelma Biracree and Evelyn Sabin to perform in Flute of Krishna, a dance filmed for the school's Eastman laboratory in experimental, color motion-picture film. The chosen trio became Graham's first dance company. At New York's 48th Street Theater on April 18, 1926, the group made its debut as "Martha Graham and Dance Group," performing in Graham's first independent concert as a choreographer.
The evening-length program was comprised of eighteen short pieces, including several solos and such group works as Chorale, to the music of Cesar Franck, and Clair de Lune and Arabesque No. 1, to the music of Claude Debussy. In the four years following, Graham created seventy-nine new dances for the group, becoming known for expressing groundbreaking social convictions through a new movement language.
Though Macdonald left the group in 1930 to dance on her own in New York, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, she switched to acting in 1934. After studying at Pittsburgh's Playhouse and New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, she joined Clare Tree Major's Children's Theater in 1934, performing also in summer stock in Putney, Vermont, and with Bob Elwyn's Maverick Theater in Woodstock, New York. In 1935, Macdonald married fellow actor Robin Batcheller, and the two performed together with the Major and Elwyn theaters for five years afterwards. Batcheller gave her last performance in 1939, on Broadway in The American Way.
Batcheller is survived by her son, Michael, of Greenwich, Connecticut, and her brother, Donald Macdonald, of Webster, N.Y., Robin Batcheller died in 1983.
BETTY CAGE, the New York City Ballet's much-loved former general manager, died at New York Presbyterian Hospital on December 19, 1999. She was 82 and lived with her husband in Manhattan.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised in Buffalo, New York, Cage moved to New York City after college. She landed an assistant editorial job at View, the lively wartime magazine closely associated with the Surrealists. Several View artists, including Kurt Seligmann, Dorothea Tanning, Esteban Francis, and Eugene Berman, would later design for the New York City Ballet or its predecessor, Ballet Society. …