Daring to be Different: Learning from Marta Becket

Submitted by Linda Hill

marta-becketMarta Becket is a unique Inclusive Leader who is one of my role models for the skill of daring to be different. Forty years ago, in 1967, Marta Becket re-claimed and re-opened a long-empty theatre in the remote California Ghost Town of Death Valley Junction. She steadfastly performed vaudeville ballet on the Armagosa Opera House stage three evenings each week whether anyone showed up to watch her or not. In the early years when she was mostly dancing to an empty theatre, she painted an audience on the walls.


Gradually, travellers noticed what she was offering and her theatre become an inclusive and welcoming Death Valley destination. In 2012, Marta passed her ballerina torch on to ballerina Jenna McLintock. Jenna now offers Marta’s vaudeville ballet performances to the world and the inclusive and welcoming magic of ballet in desert continues.


John and I first visited Marta Becket and the Armagosa Opera House in 1985 during a camping trip to Death Valley. We went in with mild curiousity. We went out feeling incredibly inspired. For me a big part of the inspiration was how graciously persistent Marta was in daring to live her life differently by doing what she loved. She became one of my role models.

Thank you Marta for teaching me, through your example, to focus in and follow a single creative dream year in and year out. Thank you Marta for teaching me, through your example, to think globally and act locally. Thank you Marta for teaching me, through your example, that small is beautiful and cumulative. Thank you Marta for teaching me, through your example to welcome, honour and inspire each person who shows up in my life.