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The Drama of Denishawn Dance
Jane Sherman

Available only as an ebook.

Wesleyan Open Books

1979 • 198 pp. 44 illus. 7 x 10"

$0.00 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7795-5

Open access - no commercial use
Click Open Access at right to check availability.

This is a unique record of the work of the Denishawn Dance Company gathered and written by a former dancer of the Company itself. The dances of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn had a major influence on the development of modern American dance, informing the work of such great figures as Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Louis Horst, and Pauline Lawrence. Yet until now no single volume has contained detailed descriptions of these seminal Denishawn dances. There exist few film records and few choreographic notes for most of the fifty-six Denishawn works described in this book. A member of Denishawn from 1925-1928, Jane Sherman gives us a firsthand look at the many works of art the Denishawn Company produced. This is the first and only record of some of the dances that Denishawn performed.

Drawing not only on her own memory, notes, files, pictures, and memorabilia, but also on the memories of other surviving Denishawn personalities, photographs, archives, films, and current Denishawn revivals, Jane Sherman has created vivid verbal pictures of the dances as they were originally performed. Each description emphasizes the theatrical essence of the dance—its mood, music, set, story, costume, lighting, and, where possible, step-by-step choreography. The date of origin and first performance, choreographer, performers, composer, critical reviews, and anecdotes are also cited.

For the dancer and the dance enthusiast, the choreographer and the dance historian, the dance teacher and the student, The Drama of Denishawn Dance will be an invaluable source of information that keeps alive the great tradition begun by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Jane Sherman’s new book The Drama of Denishawn Dance is fascinating and truthful, as I experienced it. It shows two remarkable minds, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, who created the cradle of modern contemporary dance and from which came the great ones who influenced theatrical art everywhere.” Geordie Graham

“Jane Sherman describes the entire repertoire in great detail and she is so enthusiastic that she makes one believe that almost all of these dances were great masterpieces…I was fascinated with the book, and it certainly made me long to see all those old dances revived.” Ruth Page

“Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and everyone of the company…just dance right out of the pages…Every other book on Miss Ruth and Mr. Shawn pales by comparison…I hope that this book is read by [the current] generation of dancers.” Gertrude Shurr

JANE SHERMAN (1908-2010) was the author of Soaring a book that won the prestigious de la Torre Bueno Prize for dance writing, given at the time by Dance Perspectives Foundation and now by the Society of Dance History Scholars, and Denishawn: The Enduring Influence. 

An NEH / Mellon Humanities Open Book Grant Recipient


Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:46:16 -0500