June Graham Gorton

Gorton, June

Time Period

1940 to Today

Notable Facts

Personal Information

Date of Birth

1918

Date of Death

1998

Primary Residence

Wolcott

Historical Significance

June Gorton, aka June Graham, was a dancer and a choreographer in many Broadway shows. She danced in "Barefoot Boy", "Heaven on Earth"", High Button Shoes" and "Oklahoma" during 1943- 1949. She also danced with the Catherine Littlefield's Ballet Company. She studied under George Balanchine and toured as well as choreographed Broadway musicals. She worked with many famous people including Agnus De Mille and Jerome Robbins. June and Jerome Robbins choreographed the hit musical The King & I.

Many years later, after living in Connecticut with her husband, Robert, the couple decided to buy a farmhouse Wolcott, Vermont in 1978 and retire. They thought Wolcott would be a "good place because no one else wants to be there," as June once said to her friend Betsy Bourdon.

Gorton was considered quite a celebrity in town when word got out about her days of dancing. She stood only five feet three inches tall, had long legs and was always well groomed. Her friends considered her to be a strong willed woman.

Gorton's part in structuring the Wolcott Children's Ballet Company came about when she was approached by a local woman, Nola Denslow, who ran the Art Center in town. Denslow found out that Gorton used to be a ballet dancer with Catherine Littlefied's Ballet Company, and how she studied with George Balanchine. According to her friend, Betsy Bourdon, Gorton didn't want any part of the ballet at first.

She wanted to tend to her garden, start up an antique store, walk her three Newfoundland dogs, and do some cross country skiing. Dancing was not part of her retirement plan. Denslow persisted and finally Gorton gave in. It started out as an adult ballet school but soon the adults were bringing their youngsters there, too. Eventually, all the adults dropped out and June taught ballet to the young children.

Goroton felt that starting early in life was the best way to learn ballet. She put all her energies into developing the ballet company by designing the performances around the abilities of the students. She was strict and demanded a lot of training but was respected by her students. She also enlisted her husband, Robert, in building the sets for the stage.

Gorton died in 1998. She was cared for by her husband, Robert, until her death. He died a few years later.

The Wolcott Children's Ballet performs six times a year at Johnson State College. It is a free event with some of the funding coming from the Northern Vermont Arts Council. (Miller, 1998) Over the years the ballet company has been directed under various dancers. It is now called Ballet Wolcott. Helene Nelson, Morrisville, Vermont, said, "June instilled the love of dance in many of the children from Wolcott."

Organizations or Movements

  • Episcopal Church of Hardwick
  • Wolcott Children's Ballet

Occupations

  • Choreographer
  • Ballet Dancer
  • Ballet Teacher.