The collection comprises over 100 photographic prints of Ruth St. Denis, who influenced the development of American modern
dance. The photographs feature St. Denis posing alone in costume, with fellow dancers, traveling, and at leisure with her
husband and partner, Ted Shawn. Several of the photographs are autographed by St. Denis and some have annotations on the
Ruth St. Denis was an innovative dancer, choreographer, and instructor who pioneered early forms of modern dance. Born Ruth
Dennis in Newark, New Jersey in 1877, she performed in musical comedies and vaudeville shows during her youth. She adopted
the stage name "Ruth St. Denis" in 1906 when she achieved success as a dance soloist in New York City. She approached dance
as a philosophical and spiritual experience rather than as entertainment, and incorporated Eastern and Western cultural and
religious themes into her work. In 1914 she married her dance partner, Ted Shawn, and in 1915 they founded Denishawn, a dance
school and company in Los Angeles. Denishawn was one of the first significant schools of dance in the United States, molding
young dancers such as Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. The non-ballet movements developed at Denishawn became known as "modern
dance." St. Denis also founded the Society of Spiritual Arts, the dance department at Adelphi University, and the School of
Natya. She was often called the "first lady of American dance." She died in Los Angeles in 1968.
0.3 linear feet
(1 box and 1 oversized folder)
Property rights reside with the University of California. Copyrights are retained by the creators of the records and their
heirs. Some of these materials are in the public domain. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the
Head of Special Collections and Archives.
The collection is open for research.