Matteo was known as Matteo Marcellus Vittucci when he first came to the Pillow as a student in 1951, but he was widely recognized by a single name when he died at 92 in late March 2011. Though he was drawn to dance as a child in upstate New York, formal studies were prevented by family finances and societal prejudice against men dancers. Characteristically, he reasoned that he could teach dance even if he couldn't study, so he instructed neighborhood children in make-believe Spanish or Egyptian dances, and later directed a folk dance group while studying horticulture and anthropology at Cornell. He was 32 by the time he came to study at the Pillow with La Meri. He performed at the Pillow during each of the next dozen seasons, often with longtime partner Carola Goya, whom he married in 1974, and they were both frequent members of the Pillow faculty well into the 1970s. One of their 1963 Pillow performances may be sampled online in Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. Matteo also headed the ethnic department of New York's High School of Performing Arts from its inception in the 1950s. He molded his students into a company that performed at the United Nations in 1971, positioning dance as an international language. His well-regarded book, The Language of Spanish Dance, was published in 1990, and he was named one of the Dance Heritage Coalition's first 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures in 2000. His deep desire to teach never abated. A few weeks before his death, he instructed a visitor how to "smile with your eyes” and extolled the benefits of this approach to life.
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