Temple of Wings in Berkeley

Tom told a story of a theater overlooking the Berkeley Hills where he watched his dancer friends perform. I found this place, which meets the description pretty well. You can see why he remembered it.

Temple of Wings

Photo by Daniella Thompson :  the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association

The Temple of Wings, 2800 Buena Vista Way, Berkeley, CA
Dance theories of Isadora Duncan were taught in Berkeley for years here. Florence Treadwell Boynton grew up in Oakland and was a childhood friend and admirer of Isadora Duncan. Isadora (1878-1927) was born in San Francisco, but grew up in Oakland where she began giving dance classes as early as the age of 10. Initially inspired by the movement of the ocean, Isadora developed a theory of expressive dance which broke from the restrictive movements of classical ballet.

At the Temple of Wings generations of Berkeley children learned the theories of expressive, interpretive dance under the guidance of Mrs. Boynton or her daughter or son-in-law. Berkeley photographer, Margaretta K. Mitchell captured the dance recitals performed at Temple of Wings during the 1970s in a portfolio entitled “Dance for Life.”

Margaret Norton of the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum referred to Temple of Wings as “one of the crucibles in which modern dance … was forged.”

Susan Cerny is author of “Berkeley Landmarks” and writes this in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

Berkeley Landmarks

More photos of dancers by Margaretta Mitchell

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Temple of Wings in Berkeley”

  1. I took modern dance lessons from Sulqwynn Quitzow when I was in high school, probably 1959 until 1962. I wasn’t a very good dancer but I loved to take class as I was fascinated by Mrs. Quitzow and her husband Charles. She was the most graceful woman I had ever seen and Charles, an extraordinarily handsome man, played the piano for us.

    A few times Oeloel, their daughter, took class with us. At the time, she had a young daughter and, I think, an infant son. I believe she brought her daughter to class once. I never met Vol, her brother, but he was dancing with Jose Limon at the time. I know that I watched Oeloel with wonder. She not only was breathtakingly beautiful (a natural beauty, I don’t remember her wearing makeup), but she had a slender lithe body and moved even more gracefully than her mother.

    Mrs. Quitzow always wore a grecian style long tunic and we, including Oeloel, wore leotards. We wore grecian style tunics at the beginning of the dance performances we did at the Temple of the Wings. We danced into the performance area carrying floral garlands.

    I also attended social dancing, once a month, I think. The young women would invite young men. We would provide cookies that had to be small, bite sized, so there wouldn’t be half eaten cookies lying around or getting under foot.

    An interesting side note: my maternal grandfather was the owner of a tent and awning company. When the Temple of the Wings was essentially a cement floor and pillars (and roof?), my grandfather made the canvas drapes that were hung between the pillars. Of course, by the time I took classes there, walls had long replaced the canvas drapes.

    Anita Johnston

      1. I wish I had also had ballet lessons. I started taking ballet a few years ago, when I was 66. I hardly can believe it, but I have a teacher who was willing to let me go to pointe. She is a stickler for technique and told me that I had to do exactly what she told me or I wouldn’t be able to continue my lessons. She also told me that I might never be able to dance away from the barre. Surprise, surprise, at the age of 69 I am dancing on point. Of course, I will never be able to dance as well as I do in my dreams, but I just love it.

      2. I wish I had also had ballet lessons. I started taking ballet a few years ago at the age of 66. Last year my teacher let me go to pointe. She is a real stickler for technique and has told me that I must do everything the way she teaches me or I won’t be able to continue my lessons. She also told me that I might never dance away from the barre. Surprise, surprise, at the age of 69 I am dancing on pointe and just love it.

  2. The Temple of Wings is a magical, mystical place…I am a native Berkelyan but unfortunately missed taking dance lessons there. My dream is that one day they will ask me to be a caretaker!

  3. I’m a grandson of Rhea, met Myna twice, and had no interest in dance nor The Temple of the Wings until I took up surfing. Over the years, I slowly realized how the Boytons would’ve loved surfing.. It is the perfect combination of everything they expressed.Meeting Judd was a big inspiration. I spent many years surfing and exploring the west coast from Santa Cruz to Peru and have lived in Hawaii for the past 20 years continuing to surf nearly daily. I’ve designed a circular “wave bowl” that creates an artificial wave going around a circular pool endlessly for surfing. My goal is to contruct a “Temple of The Waves” in honor of the Treadwell-Boyton legacy..

  4. John Fisher-Smith (UC Berk ’52) I was close friends with the family, as a student at UC Berkeley. I kept bees and did housework for Myna (ne Treadwell) and her dear husband Charles Boynton. Charles and Sulgwyn Quitzow were in their prime, I took modern dance classes from Qwynn, and performed as a member of their folk dance troupe. I was invited to every Saturday night dance party.
    I was close with Œloel and was her dance partner sometimes at Folk Dance Festivals. Her brother Durevol (Vol, who recently passed away in Oct 2011) and I lived in an apartment in a Maybeck house and shared modern dance and architecture. The Temple, through the generosity and individuality of the Boynton-Quitzow family members, was like a greenhouse nurturing all kinds of creativity. Having served in the WW2 Army, this was my coming back to real people living lives of peace, spirit and art — through the dance, arts and music.

  5. I worked on this magnificent home in 1982-83. The history is incredible. There are many interesting features beneath this home, Both in design and structure.
    Tom Andersen- Andersen Builders-Sacramento, Ca.

  6. Hi –

    I was a modern dancer with a company for a few years in Berkeley and was a caretaker for a year of Judd Boynton’s house on Panoramic Way. One time Judd invited me to see a dance performance at Temple of the Wings. It made quite an impression, especially the little ones.

    Judd claims that Isadora was the love child of Isadora’s mother and his grandfather Treadwell. He had lots of stories to tell being friends with Anais Nin, all the wild and crazies of the his generation!

    http://www.archive.org/stream/florencetreajudd00boynrich#page/n11/mode/2up/search/Isadora

    What a trip the place was bought by JP Getty, oil baron.

    1. Great to hear from someone who knows the place. I found out JP owns it and was a little nervous when I went to photograph the Temple of Wings. I walked all over and peered in the windows. There was a violin case leaning against a very ornate couch. The architect, Bernard Maybeck, designed it in the beaux arts style without any windows, just columns open to the sky draped with fabric. For more photographs of Maybeck’s buildings, which include the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, see this link: Maybeck

    2. I took classes from “Mrs.” Quitzo — I never knew her first name — I think in 1967-8, or thereabouts. I was 9 years old when I began. I also always thought her house/studio was called “Temple of the Winds” I remember her telling us that the house burned down on her wedding night. Now, I realize it was during the big Berkeley fire in 1923. I had no talent, but I loved those classes. For our recitals, we always wore chiffon-ny things and there were always people we didn’t know who showed up, probably for the older dancers. This class has always been a wonderful Berkeley memory for me.

  7. Hi all! Erica and Vol Quitzow here. We were wandering around and came upon this page. So happy to run into you!

    We wish you much love and continued inspiration. We are all immortal spirit clothed in mortality. May the dance continue!

    1. Hello Vol, my name is Heather, I’m the daughter of Lucretia whom as you know danced at the Temple as a child in the 1930’s. I was hoping to find you here! My email is hdeherget@yahoo. com
      I will continue my search for you elsewhere in hopes that i can speak with you soon!

    2. Draselle Muscatine

      I also took lessons from Miss Quitzow in the 1930’s when I was 6 years old. Her stir was on College Avenue near Parker. I remember dancing at the World’s Fair at Treasure Island. Her husband always provided the music. Once she took our class to visit the temple up in the hills. I can’t Rembrandt if we danced there or not. Many years latter, I was shopping at the Co-op on University and saw her. She had hardly aged and was still a beautiful woman. We are her flowers.

  8. AS A CHILD I LIVED NEXT DOOR TO MRS. QUITZOW. STUDIED DANCE WITH HER. ALSO DANCED AT THE TEMPLE OF THE WINGS. FEW YEARS BACK FOUND THE TEMPLE. TOLD BY A CARETAKER IT HAD BEEN SOLD TO THE GETTY CORPORATION.
    IT LOOK THE SAME.THE HOUSE AT ONE TIME HAD DRAPES INSTEAD OF DOORS
    I GREW AT COLLAGE AND DEWIGHT WAY. THE HOUSE IS NO LONGER.
    WILL ALWAYS LOVE BERKELEY.

    1. No, I grew up in Florida, but I am doing books on the art scenes. Maybe I can talk to you about the dance class. I was told about the Temple of Wings, (or I surmise that is the theater overlooking the Berkeley hills I was told about) by Tom Reese, the subject of my Beaux Arts book. He was a wonderful man who inspired thousands of artists in the St. Pete area. An art critique, and teacher, after obtaining his MFA at CCAC in Oakland, he introduced South Florida to avant garde films and modern art at Beaux Arts.

  9. hello jeneen–I don’t know if you remember me, Meadow, but I remember you doing that one dance..Musette? Was that it? I was so jealous, I wanted to do it too. What a wonderful experience to have had. Do you still dance?

  10. Hello Dancers. I danced at Temple of the Wings with Sulgwynn Quitzow as my teacher 1953 – 1958. I have photos of us kids in our tunics…..can I post one here? I’d love to meet my fellow dance friends again.

    Karen Van Sant
    December, 2007

    1. DID YOU GO TO BERKLEY HIGH? I WAS PROBABLY IN YOU DANCE CLASS. I ALSO TOOK TEN YEARS WITH MRS QUITZOW. SHE HAD SOCIALS FOR THE KIDS IN HIGH SCHOOL. SQUARE DANCING.

  11. I danced here for ten years as a child. Mrs. Quitzow, O’Eloel, Pappy Chuck et al. remain poignant, fond memories for me…and helped form the base for my life in dance.

    It was beautiful and unique thing to be a part of.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s