Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Art, sensuality, and the everyday: A silent film era Denishawn dance film

From the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library, a short 7:00 minute film showing life at the Denishawn house in Los Angeles in the early 1920's. Unfortunately, it does not include Louise Brooks, who was a member of Denishawn from the Fall of 1922 through the Spring of 1924. As there is little footage of Denishawn from this time, this provides a valuable glimpse of the kind of dance Brooks studied and performed, along with vintage glimpses of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.

NYPL description: "Brief scenes of Denishawn house, Los Angeles, Ruth St. Denis teaching class, leading students in a dance, and in Oriental costume with a peacock; Ted Shawn auditioning small girl wearing pointe shoes; informal shots of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn; Denishawn students at play. The compilation concludes with a 1913 Thomas Alva Edison Company special effects film, The Dance of the Ages, in which Norma Gould, Ted Shawn and dancers perform miniaturized on a banquet table top; Shawn's scenario of brief dances evokes historical eras from the Stone Age to the early twentieth century."

Recognize the kneeling bobbed young woman to the right of a seated Ruth St. Denis. This photo, taken in the summer of 1923 in  Petersburgh, New Hampshire, depicts St. Denis and her students in Mariarden, at the Summer Theatre and School of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Currier of Boston.

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