Esta Beck McKayle grew up in Long Beach, NY, and studied ballet along with her twin sister, Eve. Further studies on scholarship at the New Dance Group led to jobs in the touring companies of Broadway shows like Oklahoma!
and Kiss Me, Kate
, and she also danced with the troupes of Martha Graham, Anna Sokolow, and Hadassah. In 1954, she married Donald McKayle, whose proposal to her came in the form of the ballet Nocturne
which premiered at the Pillow the previous summer. The McKayles had two daughters before they divorced a decade later, and Esta went on to work with dance and theater companies in Boston and Cambridge while teaching at Wheaton College and the Joy of Movement Center. She also achieved distinction in other artistic fields such as photography and jewelry design, and was never bored. She died in February 2012 at 81, with her sense of fun still intact.