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
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
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.