Klarna Pinska was a protegee of dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis. Dancer, choreographer, designer, director, and teacher associated
with the Denishawn School of Modern Dance. In later years she recreated a St. Denis technique, which she called "soaring",
and taught throughout California. She was associated with North Beach Anti-Fascist Players during World War II, and with
Xoregos Dance Company in the 1970s. This is the personal collection of Klarna Pinska, including programs, photographs, manuscripts,
correspondence, newspaper clippings, artifacts, and some financial records pertaining to her career. Of particular interest
is material relating to her membership in the Boilermaker's Union during World War II and her work with that union. Also included
in the collection are portions of costumes and other artifacts presumably used by Miss Pinska. There is little about her time
at the Ruth St. Denis Temple of Dance, aside from some ledger sheets.
Klarna Pinska was born Charma Packapinsky in Ukraine, near Kiev, circa 1902-04. Around 1904 they migrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba,
Canada. As a young girl, Klarna studied folk dancing. Many famous performers came to Winnipeg early in the century, including
Pavlova and Ruth St. Denis, who Klarna first saw in 1915. She was so impressed with the dancer that she arranged for an interview-audition.
St. Denis admired her native talent, but told her she was not "pretty" enough and, at five feet, was too short. However, St.
Denis did invite her to come and see her if she was ever in Los Angeles. In 1919, the family moved to San Francisco, and Klarna
saved her money in order to go to Los Angeles to see "Miss Ruth". After successfully impressing the dancer, she was hired
as a maid in return for free dance lessons. Due to her size, Klarna was never able to perform many of the star roles, but
she did a number of important parts with the company, and she began to design costumes and assist in choreography for Miss
Ruth. During the next fifteen years, she was associated with the Denishawn School of Modern Dance, as a soloist, choreographer
and teacher. In 1932 she choreographed "The Synchoric", from an idea of Miss Ruth's, to the music of Schubert's "Unfinished
Symphony". This premiered at the Lewisohn Stadium in New York. Another season she choreographed "Rondo" for the Denishawn
Dancers. Among her students were Jose Limon and Jerome Robbins. With Miss Ruth, she choreographed and directed the "Sara and
Abraham Ballet" featured at the 1940 New York World's Fair. For a few years, in the second half of the 30's, she led her own
company, "Klarna Pinska and Group", but it was not financially successful. Early in World War II, she returned to San Francisco,
where she secured work in the Sausalito Navy shipyards and worked enthusiastically with union problems. At the same time she
was active in theatrical circles, including the Federal Theatre, and in 1943 with the North Beach Anti-Fascist Players. She
has worked as a therapist, training children in dance. She named her system Posture Through Rhythm and Dance. Early in 1960
she was active in the Telegraph Hill Posture Class, as adviser and teacher in children's classes. In 1964 she was an instructor
in dance movement with the Elizabeth Holloway School of the Theatre in San Francisco. By 1968 she was teaching her "soaring"
technique in schools in Mill Valley, and in 1978 she taught the soaring technique at Fresno State University. Klarna had a
continuing association with the Xoregos Dance Company, San Francisco, for several years. In 1975, Klarna became director of
the Temple of the Dance, a foundation to preserve and perpetuate the contribution to dance by Ruth St. Denis and Denishawn.
She travelled to New York City in 1975 and was associated for a season with the Joyce Trisler Company, re-constructing the
"Spirit of Denishawn" for posterity. In addition to performances on both coasts, the program was recorded on Public Television's
"Dance in America" series as "Trailblazers of Modern Dance". In the early 1980's her ballet, "Everyone Wanted to Do the Center",
a satire on the Denishawn years, premiered at Dance/LA company at UCLA. In 1982 she instructed at Duke University in Durham
for the American Dance Festival.