National Geographic : 1970 Jan
They leased and remodeled the place, and in February 1968 the curtain went up. Since then Marta has given three performances a week, except in the hotter months. Admission is whatever you care to drop into a collection jar at the door, and the tape-recorded over ture swells promptly at 8:15, whether there is an audience or not. "A violinist can replace a poor instrument, but a dancer cannot," she explained. "I must dance to be ready to dance." The show is dance-mime, all Marta's crea tion, and requires her to play tragedienne one minute, comedienne the next-21 different characters in an average evening, and 12 to 15 costume changes. Viewers get the impres sion of a whole company of captivating danc ers. Marta, who is also an accomplished art ist, painted an audience on the theater's rear wall, which gives her a sense of having an audience on the nights no one comes to see her dance (pages 88-9). "Some people think we're crazy, and some people think we're great," Tom said. "We don't care." Death Valley attracts such determined individualists. In the Panamints we followed a five-mile-long winding road that a Basque miner named Pete Aguereberry had built by hand in the 1920's. It led not to a gold or a Mysterious thunderbird guards a wall of Marble Canyon. Puzzles to anthropologists, such petro glyphs more commonly take the form of lizards, sheep, men, or simply crosshatching and wavy lines. Authorities differ as to their age, which In dians made them, and whether they are maps, messages, or mere doodles to pass the time. Layer-cake walls, sculptured and polished by nature, intrigue visitors in Mosaic Canyon. Natu ralist Shally, left, points out layers of marble. She leads nature walks in Death Valley during the winter and in Grand Canyon in summer.