Doris Humphrey

Category : Arts, Women

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Doris Humphrey, (born Oct. 17, 1895, Oak Park, Ill., U.S.—died Dec. 29, 1958, New York, N.Y.), pioneer in American modern dance and an innovator in technique, choreography, and theory of dance movement.

Humphrey was an avid and talented student of dance from an early age. In 1917, after graduating from high school and teaching dance in Chicago for four years, she joined the Denishawn dance school and company in Los Angeles. She soon became a leading soloist in the company, and by 1920 she was experimenting in choreography. Her first major work, to Edward MacDowell’s Sonata Tragica, was presented in 1925. The piece possessed such strong choreographic rhythms that Humphrey’s mentor, Ruth St. Denis, later presented it as the first American modern dance performed without music. After a two-year tour of Asia, Humphrey and another Denishawn dancer, Charles Weidman, directed the Denishawn House in New York City until 1928, when they left to form the Humphrey-Weidman school and company, which was active until 1944; Sybil Shearer, Katherine Litz, and José Limón were among the more famous members of their company.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Web. Nov 4th 2014.

Photo: Doris Humphrey Modern Dance Pioneer. Web Nov 4th 2014.

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