Dance We Must: The Art and Costumes of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, 1906–1940

Kevin M. Murphy, Caroline Hamilton, Erica Dankmeyer, Panalee Maskati, Norton Owen, Thandi Steele, Munjulika R. Tarah

Ruth St Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972) pioneered modern dance in the US with their company Denishawn, founded in 1914. Incorporating elements from ancient, non-Western and Native American sources, Denishawn became the first important American dance company. A generation of dancers and choreographers, including Martha Graham, trained and performed with the company, and many artists, including Auguste Rodin, John Singer Sargent, Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell, collaborated with them.
This catalog reproduces artwork, sets, ephemera and especially costumes, many of which have not been seen since the 1930s. Some of the materials and costumes, as well as the choreography, borrow from East and South Asian and Native American cultures, and the publication interrogates the legacy of cultural appropriation in dance. The materials also demonstrate St. Denis and Shawn’s stylistic and personal connections to American and European modernists, broadening an understanding of American dance in early modernism.

status Copy #1 (23970): in
genre Performance Arts
publisher Williams College Museum of Art
publish date 2022
popularity checked out 0 time(s)

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