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DANCER DIVINE

 

Ruth St.Denis (1879-1968)., the Mother of Modern Dance in America-later married Ted Shawn and formed the famous dance company Denishawn which trained other famous dancers as Martha Graham and Pearl Wheeler. St.Denis was actually an “interpretative dancer ,believing in the principle that behind each physical gesture was an emotional and spiritual motivation. Nature was her model for her movements which were expressive and dynamic. St.Denis contributed much to modern dance- the use of bare feet, freer use of torso, subtle modulations of weight ,gradation in dynamics and expressive use of hands.

 

Several years back, when my beloved elder sister,Mrs.Basilia Rojas Escopin was still alive, she kept a book about Ruth St.Denis.She too was a dancer and a very good one if I may say so. She took inspiration for her creations through Ms.St.Denis. So I stole this particular book, not reading the entire contents at once, but perusing the pictures first .

 

There Ruth St.Denis danced through the ages, stilled only by photography and the passage of time. She incorporated Eastern influences in her dances like Radha from India,Kuan Yin from China, and Egypta from Egypt Other dances were Second Arabesque, Soaring and Sonata Pathetique. She traveled around the world with her husband Ted and the Denishawn dancers.

 

Her biographer Suzanne Shelton summarized her life in a brief paragraph and to quote her,

 

“At the moment of dancing, Ruth St.Denis submerged herself in this divine experience, but offstage her life was an erratic series of exploitative relationships, destructive passions and unfulfilled dreams. Her personal life reflected a chronic tension between spirituality and sexuality that plagued other charismatic women of her day-Mary Baker Eddy, Aimee Semple McPherson, Madame Blavatsky.”

 

 

She is not only a dancer but a poet as well..

 

Reading one of her poems I can’t resist jotting it down for others to see…for

 

to behold Ruth St.Denis dancing is to witness poetry in motion

literally and figuratively

 

she describes herself rather vividly in this one:

 

The Gods have meant

That I should dance

And in some mystic hour

I shall move to unheard rhythms

Of the cosmic orchestra of heaven

And you will know the language

Of my wordless poem

And will come to me

For that is why I dance.

 

 

Source: Shelton ,Suzanne. DIVINE DANCER.Doubleday & Co.,Inc.,New York,USA.1981.

 


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