Dance critic Walter Terry was for years a close friend and disciple of dance revolutionary Ruth St. Denis who lived an equally remarkable if less flamboyant life than her contemporary, Isadora Duncan. She was a New Jersey farm girl trained by the elements who broke all show business rules to land her first job -- in a combination vaudeville house and monster museum. She augmented her income by marathon bicycle racing, was kicked out of ballet class, and joined up with David Belasco's touring theatre groups as an actress until the moment of divine inspiration -- which came over an ice cream soda while staring at an Egyptian cigarette poster featuring Isis. This was the bizarre beginning of ""Egypta,"" a dance conceptualization that would leave bewildered audiences searching for a reference point somewhere between the Carnival and the Cathedral. Mr. Terry, although not too judicious in his use of flowery phrases, nonetheless pinpoints the influences that created and guided this phenomenon -from her matriarchal, capital Mother to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to her unstable relationship with Ted Shawn. ""Miss Ruth's"" feisty spirit is redeemingly present -- ""Dear, I have been called a prophet, and I think I am, but I shall always be a minor prophet because major prophets don't have a sense of humor.