Ruth St. Denis sightings

miss ruth 1914 As time marches on, the figureheads of the 20th century dance fall from our reach. But a surprising number of dance devotees in Los Angeles had contact, however minimally, with the great modern-dance pioneer, Ruth St. Denis. Forever known as “Miss Ruth,” she spent her final decades in our city. First up ...

What was so ‘faux’ about Miss Ruth?

For years I have read critiques that Ruth St. Denis, by all reckoning along with Isadora Duncan the matriarch of modern dance, staged ‘faux,’ or non-authentic, ethnic choreography. Her lack of performative integrity caused her artistic offspring — Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Jack Cole — to rebel. But what does that mean? ...

Gorgeous! Ruth St. Denis headdress in Denishawn costume show 2

Dance · Fashion
The headdress from Ruth St. Denis’s 1919 Chinese-inspired “Kuan Yin,” with buttons, feathers and artificial pearls. credit David Dashiell for the New York Times. Dance writer Gia Kourlas writes in the New York Times about an exhibit of 30  costumes worn by Denishawn dancers under the aegis of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. The ...

A house tinged by antisemitism: Denishawn 2

Excerpted from: Humphrey, Doris, “Doris Humphrey: An Artist First,” an autobiography edited and completed by Selma Jeanne Cohen (Wesleyan University Press, Middletown CT), 1972, pp 61-62. The summer of 1928 Charles [Weidman] and I were teaching the classes at the Carnegie Hall studio, while Pauline [Lawrence] played piano. The students were stimulated by our enthusiasm ...

Edna Guy: her race kept her from dancing with Denishawn

Three years after Tamiris premiered her first Negro Spirituals, Edna Guy and Hemsley Winfield collaborated to stage the First Negro Dance Recital in America on 29 April 1931. With tickets priced from one to four dollars, spectators at the Theatre in the Clouds, an intimate space located on the top floor of the Chanin Building ...

Miss Ruth in the Valley 4

Ruth St. Denis, featured in a newspaper story on elderly fitness, strikes a Denishawn pose for a photographer. Verso text: “Pictured are Frankie Van, owner of Frankie Van’s Health Club, 3717 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Studio City, along with famous modern dancer Ruth St. Denis. Ms. Denis once lived in the Valley and operated a school ...

Denishawn could not hold her down, Louise Brooks

Dance · Film
Actress/dancer/flapper-provocateuse Louise Brooks made her Denishawn company debut in 1922, when the company had already relocated from Los Angeles to New York. Brooks was shown the door by company matriarch Ruth St. Denis and after playing dozens of bit parts in Hollywood movies, hit it big as bad-woman “Lulu” in G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box in ...

Miss Ruth strikes a Denishawn pose in “The Peacock” (1914)

Dance · Visual arts
A photographer’s dream model, the exotic Ruth St. Denis habitually struck a dramatic pose for the camera. Fifty years later, in the San Fernando Valley, she was doing the same thing. Ruth St. Denis, “The Peacock” 1914, photo by J.D. Toloff, Evanston, IL

This was Denishawn

We’re looking forward to spending an evening  — picnic and free music concert — at outdoor-amphitheater Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles in MacArthur Park on June 12. Does everyone know the rich dance history of that neighborhood, whose prior name “Westlake” derived from the beautiful urban lake that the park surrounds? Read this, first, from the ...

Jane Sherman remembers Martha Graham

Dance · Film
In a prior post, we noted the passing of Jane Sherman, the last living Denishawn dancer. In an arts•meme exclusive, our friend Hugh Neely of Timeline Films of Culver City, California, provides us with footage of Jane reminiscing about fellow Denishawn alumni Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey.      Graham danced with Denishawn from 1921- ...