Ruth St. Denis

Recorded at Jacob's Pillow: 
July, 1941

Raised in a Bohemian environment, Ruthie Dennis (1879-1968) studied ballroom and skirt dancing in Somerville, New Jersey, and first performed professionally as a variety act in 1894 at Worth's Family Theatre and Museum in New York. By 1906 with Radha, St. Denis had developed the essence of her distinctive dance style, combining spiral form with equal parts voluptuousness, mysticism, and erotica. She built a stunning career as a soloist and, in 1914, acquired a professional and personal partner in Ted Shawn. A year later they opened Denishawn which, as a school and company, nurtured leaders of the next generation of modern dancers: Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman. St. Denis performed on more than a dozen Pillow seasons between 1940 and 1964 (including a 1949 performance of Liebestraum), and her portrait still hangs beside the proscenium in the Ted Shawn Theatre. Her works are occasionally revived at the Pillow, including a memorable 1982 performance by Cynthia Gregory.

Dance Title: "The Delirium of Senses" from Radha
Choreography: Ruth St. Denis (1906)
Music: Leo Delibes (music added to video by Jess Meeker in 1973)
Filmmaker: Dwight Godwin