Co-Creator NYC Dance Project
– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
Martha Graham was a great inspiration for me. She changed the face of dance – a world where ballet dominated the mainstream audiences and women were portrayed as beautiful, delicate swans. Graham portrayed them into fierce, warriors and celebrated their strength as powerful women. To me, she was an artist, feminist and trailblazer – not to mention a style icon! I studied the dance technique she created throughout college and she inspired my love of dance.
Women, who inspire you now?
I still love Graham of course, but I’m always inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’m assuming every woman is inspired by her, so maybe it’s too obvious of an answer, but I truly feel she is making a difference in this world. I saw her documentary at least 4 times…
The most valuable lesson taught by your Mother?
To be independent, self-sufficient and have a career. Don’t rely on anyone else.
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
Absolutely not! I think we live in a time where youth is overvalued, especially for women! I’m not sure I understand this obsession with youth. I feel older women are wiser and just as beautiful. They are more focused on the things in life that really matter and less concerned about societal norms.
“I’m not sure I understand this obsession with youth.
I feel older women are wiser and just as beautiful.
They are more focused on the things in life that really matter
and less concerned about societal norms.”
Through my decades!
20’s: My 20’s were a lot of fun. I went to the University of Michigan and I cannot think of a better place to be in college than Ann Arbor, Michigan. I would spend the rest of my life in college if that was possible. After, I came to NYC with friends from college and started working as a magazine editor. It was a time when magazines were thriving and budgets were generous. We worked with amazing talent and I got the chance to work on set with some incredible photographers. I also started doing my own photography work, which was also exciting for me.
30’s: I got married and moved to suburban New Jersey, which was a big change for me. I had my first child at 32 and my second at 35. They are and always were the joys of my life from the moment they were born. By age 36, I was divorced and raising my kids as a single mom. I went back to school at NYU to get my Masters in Social Work. This time in my life was a lot of juggling – trying to balance things between kids, school, and home. There was little time to focus on my own needs.
40’s: I met Ken Browar during this time and married him. We moved our family to Brooklyn and I began photography again, this time working with him as my partner and mostly photographing dance. Our dance photographs were well received and we published two books during this time. Work and family were my main focus!
50’s: I’ve only just begun my 50’s so not yet sure how they will be! My oldest daughter went off to college – she followed in my footsteps going to the University of Michigan! I could not be more proud of her. My young one is in 11th grade, so I’m realizing my 50’s will be about being an empty nester. I’m really hoping to travel a lot during this time and take up some new hobbies – I want to try things I have never done before and see where life takes me. I’m very excited about this time of my life as I feel for the first time since my 20’s it will be more “me” focused.
With my husband and business partner, Ken Brower. We’ve now completed two books on dance together as well as many gallery exhibitions.
Martha Graham Dance Company | Costumes by Martha Graham for “Night Journey” – image from the newly released ‘The Style of Movement: Fashion & Dance”
The newly released 2nd book. “The Style of Movement: Fashion and Dance” 300 pages of dancers wearing dreamy designs by Valentino, Dior and Iris Herpen to name a few.
What are you most grateful for?
My 2 daughters, my husband, mother and all my extended family.
Has there been a significant circumstance good or bad that changed your outlook on life?
Last summer we had a fire in our apartment. I was in bed asleep and the doorbell rang – there was a fire in our building. I grabbed my cat and ran outside in my pajamas. Luckily we all made it out ok, but our home was completely destroyed. Our home is still being rebuilt and will be for some time. It did change my outlook, I feel now more than ever that things don’t matter, it’s about being with the people you love. I also realize that life can change in the blink of an eye and you have to take advantage of every single day. People always tell you these things, but sometimes it takes a traumatic event for it to really sink in.
“There was little in my life that was harder than being a single mother. Until I met Ken, I had the girls by myself for several years.
I have a lot of appreciation for women who are single mothers.”
Your thoughts on aging.
I feel like aging is harder on women than it is on men, and frankly, that annoys me! Men also grow old and should have to deal with the same issues we do.
The upside: I’m looking forward to having more time to myself and the opportunity to not be tied down. My friendships feel more genuine and real.
The downside: I’m worried more about my health and don’t have the energy I used to have.
Your advice to young women of today?
Be yourself and don’t worry so much what other people think. Follow your dreams, live each day to the fullest.
-Deborah Ory xoxo
FEW OF MY FAVORITES
Depends a lot on my mood. I listen to everything from classical to the Rolling Stones.
I just finished reading “The Educated” by Tara Westover and found it fascinating. I don’t know if I could ever pick a “favorite” book because I love so many. I loved Michele Obama’s book. The Handmaids Tale was fascinating and scary at the same time. I really enjoy reading any historical fiction also.
Again I love so many. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Godfather, Schindler’s List. I watched The Sound of Music so many times when my kids were growing up we knew every word and used to sing the songs to each other.
Peonies, ranunculus, poppies.
Grapefruit, cinnamon, lavender.
Florence or anywhere in Tuscany.
Pasta, chocolate, and cheese. Anything spicy.
I’m not so particular about what I use and change brands, colors all the time. I do love a sheer lip color and always wear tinted moisturizer.
Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Henri Cartier- Bresson. I love older vintage photographs. And of course choreographers – Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, and Balanchine being some of my favorites.