TED SHAWN: Father of American Dance by Walter Terry

TED SHAWN: Father of American Dance

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Dance critic Terry, who earlier paid tribute to the duenna of what used to be called ""modern"" American dance, Ruth St. Denis (Miss Ruth, 1969), here gives her partner and unhappily wed husband his due. It was Ted Shawn (1891-1972) who bestowed respectability and stature on the American male dancer, who gave him ""masculinity"" through the use of natural, vigorous body movements, and, at Jacob's Pillow, ""brought a dance festival of world-wide significance into being."" Terry reviews Shawn's career after a bleak youth in the midwest and a run of partners and schools connected with ballroom dancing. He first saw Ruth in 1911, joined her company and married her in 1914--and the Olympian storms began. Ruth felt ""smothered,"" Ted was ""hurt""; but somehow the two giant egos managed to dance together and found their chain of Denishawn schools. Terry chronicles the tours (including those by Ted's all-male troupe) and evokes the character of Shawn's performances--not always in the best taste but a winning mix of choreographic vitality and commercial flash. As for Ted, whom Terry knew as a friend, he was vain, selfish, and petty but also kind, generous, and curiously vulnerable. A searching, often amusing study and an invaluable partner to Miss Ruth.

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1976
Publisher: Dial