Charles Weidman Essay

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Charles Weidman, 1901-1975, was one of the giants of American modern dance and a pioneer in the development of the art form. Mr. Weidman was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and his artistic interest and abilities were evident from an early age. From the time he attended his first performance of the Denishawn Company, he was determined to become a dancer, and at age 19 he received a scholarship to the Denishawn School. Mr. Weidman soon became a leading Denishawn dancer, and partnered Martha Graham and replaced Ted Shawn in important roles. He performed with the company in vaudeville throughout the United States and in concerts in England and the Orient. During an extended tour of the Far East, his interest in oriental dance was aroused, and he began studies with a Japanese teacher. In 1927, he and Doris Humphrey left Denishawn in protest against the romanticism of the repertory, and together they established a company and a school devoted to exploring a new aesthetic. It is the work of the company they founded and that of their contemporaries, Martha Graham and Hanya Holm that has come to be known as modern dance. Miss Humphrey and Mr. Weidman established new principles of technique, and choreographed many works together. Their principles of technique involved gravity – fall and recovery, and sustained, suspended, and vibratory movement. Among the dances they created for theater are Lysistrata, School for Husbands, and Alcina Suite. Mr. Weidman's own dances for the Humphrey /Weidman troupe include: Candide, Atavisms (Bargain Counter, Stock Exchange, Lvnchtown), The Happv Hypocrite, Traditions, Kinetic Pantomime, Flickers and A House Divided; and the autobiographical dances, On My Mother's Side and And Daddy Was A Fireman.

After Miss Humphrey's retirement in 1945, Mr. Weidman continued to create dances, perform and teach. He was especially popular at colleges and

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