So as not to forget those who came before, a simple recognition for another creative woman who did it her way! To dance just for the pleasure of it brings joy. And to have others appreciate the pleasure it brings, a different reward is realized. 

January 20, 1879 ~ Born in rural New Jersey, St. Denis was influenced early on by the gymnastic pose system developed by Francois Delsarte.
While performing in vaudeville, she was discovered by the famous Broadway producer/director David Belasco, who hired St. Denis for his company, touring the States and Europe.

In 1905, St. Denis left Belasco’s tutelage, beginning her solo career in expressive dance, and she soon found an outlet in interpreting the themes of the “Orient” – Egypt, India, Japan, et al. Although her expressive dance themes were not culturally accurate, they were well received by the audiences of the time.

By the 1910’s, solo dance performances began to fall out of favor – coincidentally, at the same time, St. Denis met a young dancer by the name of Ted Shawn. Shawn and St. Denis soon became partners and lovers, and in 1914 they married.
The two of them founded the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts in Los Angeles. St. Denis and Shawn, with their students, embarked on numerous national and world tours during their 1920’s heyday. Operating until the early 1930’s, Denishawn School students included Martha Graham, Louise Brooks, Evan-Burroughs Fontaine, Doris Humphrey, Lillian Powell, Charles Weidman, Jack Cole, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Mabel Normand, Myrna Loy, Colleen Moore, among many others.
In 1931, the Denishawn school folded, and St. Denis and Shawn split up (however, they never officially divorced). In the late 1930’s, St. Dennis founded one of the first dance programs at an American university, at Adelphi University in New York State.

St. Denis continued to teach dance and hold seminars, until her death in Los Angeles of heart failure in 1968, at age 89.

Her greatest legacy is that she, along with her contemporary Isadora Duncan, is considered a founder of modern American dance.

L: Uncited photographer, c. 1920s.
R: “Ruth St. Denis Wearing a Toga”; photo by Arnold Genthe; published in ‘Vanity Fair’, August 1928.


Remembering modern dance pioneer RUTH ST. DENIS today on her birthday
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