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Ann Dils

Dance reconstruction and personal history.

Dils, Ann: "Dance reconstruction and personal history", 15th International Congress on Dance Research, Ioannina, Greece, 7-11/11, 2001.


Dance Reconstruction and Personal History is an exploration of three American modern dance works created by members of the same dance family: Doris Humphrey's 1941 Decade, Pauline Koner's 1962 The Farewell, and José Limón's 1964 A Choreographic Offering. In all of these works, the choreographers used parts of earlier Humphrey dances, reconstructing her movements as a way to create danced history. Decade, an autobiographical work, marked an important transition in Humphrey’s career: the opening of the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre. The Farewell and A Choreographic Offering were choreographed after Humphrey’s death, Koner and Limón using Humphrey’s movements as a means of honoring her legacy. Both choreographers relied on Humphrey’s advice and editing, and these works marked their first major choreographic achievements after her passing. These works affirm that modern dance, a form usually associated with radical vision and dramatic breaks with the past, as a tradition.

1. Introduction

Dancing history is a familiar strategy for current American choreographers. Bill T. Jones’s Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land is perhaps the best known of these dances. Intermixing social, cultural, and political history, Jones combines autobiographical narrative and contemporary dance moves with portions of Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and dances from the minstrel show era of American history. Mark Dendy choreographs personal and dance history in his Dream Analysis, a work that features two Martha Graham figures — done in drag by Dendy and dancer Richard Move — and two Vaslav Nijinsky’s, along with autobiographic narrative and new dancing. The idea of dancing history may seem like a new strategy, one that grew out of identity politics and the desire to claim and to reshape history. But American modern dancers also choreographed history. In my essay, I explore three works of danced history by members of the Huphrey-Weidman dance family: Doris Humphrey's 1941 Decade, Pauline Koner's 1962 The Farewell, and José Limón's 1964 A Choreographic Offering.

These works combine autobiography and dance history and in Humphrey’s work, social commentary as well. Easily their most poignant purpose is as a way to mark life transitions; the choreographers conjured up the past, owning and shaping it to suit current purposes, as a means of going forward. Humphrey created her 1941 Decade from her own works and those of partner Charles Weidman. She used the dances to create a history of Humphrey-Weidman and as a parable of artistic life in a business economy. 1962 The Farewell and 1964 A Choreographic Offering were Koner's and Limón's first major works following Humphrey's death in 1958. Koner used Humphrey's ideas for distilling movement from everyday experiences in The Farewell and briefly quoted two Humphrey works. The work also suggested Koner’s deep identification with Humphrey as a woman facing life’s cycles, and as an artist. Limón's A Choreographic Offering was built from movements taken from fourteen Humphrey dances. In this ongoing, every changing work, Limón suggested his own continuation of the Humphrey line.

2. Doris Humphrey’s Decade

Humphrey's 1941 Decade, subtitled "a biography of modern dance from 1930 to 1940," premiered at BenningtonCollege but celebrated the opening of the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre in New York. Decade was part dance, part theatrical review and loosely chronicled the professional lives of Humphrey-Weidman during their years at their former 18th St. studio. The two-hour work featured a narrative structure by Alex Kahn, short dances and sections of longer works by Humphrey and Charles Weidman, and a montage of music used originally for the dances. The dances incorporated into Decade were always recognizable, but Humphrey used them in a new structure and gave them a new purpose.

Humphrey wrote her parents that Decade depicted "the struggle of a pioneer art in a world geared for profit," adding "we ought to be able to do that with feeling."_ As Humphrey biographer Marcia Siegel points out, Humphrey and Weidman had been "theatricalizing their social concerns for several years" in dances such as Theatre Piece and Race of Life._ Theatre Piece, for example, explored competition in the workplace, on athletic fields, and in the theatre. While these pieces enlarged on Humphrey's and Weidman's personal concerns and could be linked to their everyday lives, they were presented as abstractions, the characters were presented as types rather than individuals. Although Humphrey and Weidman appeared as “The Artists” in Decade, it was clear that they danced their own histories.

Humphrey's choice of a first-person voice may have been influenced by Weidman's autobiographical On My Mother's Side, premiered at Studio Theater early in 1941. She had been thinking about the company's history and the repertory of the last ten years since at least December 1940. The three-months of concerts that opened Studio Theater in late December 1940 and the early months of 1941 included revivals of many Humphrey works, including some no longer in the company’s active repertory.

Decade was part of the Depression-era movement in all forms of expressive life — theater, radio, photography, writing, music, dance — that "let the people tell their own story in their own words."   For choreographers (usually white, middleclass, and female), letting the people speak usually meant combining vernacular speech, music, and movement, as a way to speak for those less privileged, especially rural Americans and laborers. Helen Tamiris, in her Negro Sprituals, a series of dances developed between 1928 and 1942, and Sophie Maslow, in 1941 Dust Bowl Ballads and 1942 Folksay, sought sympathy for disadvantaged people by exploring their problems or representing them as noble, hardworking Americans. Humphrey's 1938 American Holiday combined movement, a singing chorus, spoken lines for an actor and dancers, and an orchestral score. In American Holiday, Humphrey praised the ideal of American freedom and, if the piece had been completed, would have pointed out the mockery that celebrations like July Fourth make of that ideal. In Decade, Humphrey and her dancers become the people, speaking for themselves in their own medium and exploring social problems germane to their own situations.

An early version of Alex Kahn's script is preserved in the Dance Collection, New York Public Library at LincolnCenter. Entitled "Nine Dramatic Dialogues," the script dramatizes a series of real-life encounters between Humphrey, Weidman, and various business people. A building superintendent, movie producer, opera impresarios, theatrical manager, and booking agent appear. Each promises the company some great opportunity that ends with financial or artistic disappointment. The script seems designed to elicit sympathetic groans from the dancers in the audience. Kahn's script was cut and rearranged for the Bennington and New York productions. Although the script was altered, I use it here, to guide a discussion of the work,

In Decade, Humphrey and Weidman, the “Artists,” interact onstage with a figure called “Mr. Business. ” The dialogue is spoken offstage by actors while Humphrey, Weidman and Evans Davis, as Mr Business, mime the action onstage. The piece begins with the "Vision of a New Life" danced by Humphrey, Weidman and company to an excerpt from Aaron Copland's Music for the Theatre. Humphrey meets the building superintendent — Mr Business in his first role — and the dancers move props and costumes into the new space. Mr. Business informs them that the building owner, Real Estate Corporation, won't authorize repairs. He, however, might nail down that pesky floorboard if Humphrey and Weidman teach his little girl to dance.

The company next dances a series of works grouped under the title "The Path to Realization." These solo, duet, and small group dances date mostly from 1928: Humphrey's Gigue, Air for the G String, and Pathetic Study and Weidman's Cathedrale engloutie, retitled Sunken Cathedral. Humphrey may have grouped these dances together as reminders of her Denishawn heritage. In a review, Robert Sabin remarked on Humphrey’s sentimental use of musical interpretation, a part of her Denishawn legacy. _ Two of the works — Air and Cathedrale — also made extensive use of fabric, another Denishawn trademark. Also in this section are a humorous "New Ideas" in choreography, perhaps based on a lecture-demonstration, and bits of Weidman's 1934 choreography for Iphigenia.

Kahn's dialogues break up these sections. The Artists speak with Mr Business, this time a movie producer, about Air for the G String, a dance actually filmed by Westinghouse Corporation. Mr Business makes it clear that the dance is being filmed to demonstrate the technological miracle of the film's sound device, not to record a dance masterpiece and that the dance should be appropriately mild and not intrude upon appreciation of the music. Weidman’s Iphigenia becomes part of a scene with an opera impresario.

The next group of dances, introduced by an exchange between Humphrey, Weidman, and Mr Business as theatrical producer, were choreographed between 1928 and 1934. These include Humphrey's solo Circular Descent (from Two Ecstatic Themes), The Shakers, and Water Study and Weidman's Ringside and Kinetic Pantomime. Three of these dances were included in the 1932 J.J. Schubert Broadway revue Americana - the real-life source of the accompanying dialogue. Mr Business selects Water Study and The Shakers because Water Study — a study of wave action done in silence - would allow the management to feature the female dancers wearing bathing suits and The Shakers, a theatrical version of a danced ritual of the Shaker religious sect, "sounds peppy." The dances in this section also contrast with the first group of dances and suggest Humphrey’s growth as a choreographer. The dances in the first section were mostly music visualizations; the dances in this group were abstractions, made from movement found in nature, history, or everyday behavior. Water Study has no music and Kinetic Pantomime is danced only partially to a musical score.

The final group of dances, fitted into an encounter with a tour manager, were choreographed after 1935. These include a trio excerpted from Weidman's Opus 51, a duet from his Happy Hyprocrite, and small sections from Humphrey's large group works With My Red Fires, Theatre Piece, and finally "Celebration" from New Dance. The sophisticated manipulation of group choreography in these works would have contrasted with Water Study and The Shakers, works that feature more unison movement.

In the Katz script, Decade ends with Humphrey informing her building superintendent that the company is moving to a new studio where they will not be “subject to outside influences . . . we intend to let all the doors that have been closed to us remain closed, and ourselves to open a new one. The door to the Future."_ Sabin reports that Decade ends with a "Departure Toward a New Vision" in which the dancers enter their new dance theatre._ In the ending section, Humphrey may have combined and re-developed movements from the established dances as well as carrying out the dramatic business of moving into new studio spaces.

Kahn's script is written in the cynical language of the dialogues created for the Federal Theatre's documentary plays, Living Newspapers.   In these works, allegorical characters called Farmer, Manufacturer, Consumer and so forth enacted pointed conversations taken from everyday life situations._ Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett points out that The political implications of a technique that ostensibly empowered the subject by letting him speak for himself were particularly clear during the Depression, when social activists used various modes of social documentary, and particularly case histories and first person accounts, to defend, and to mobilize help for, the disadvantaged by appealing to the emotions of the more fortunate.

By telling her life story, Humphrey proposes a self-sufficent solution to the problems of the dance community. A few short months prior to Deacade's premiere at Bennington, New York Times critic John Martin praised Studio Theatre, an arrangement that allowed Humphrey-Weidman to be self-producing, as "the progressive direction to take in a difficult period."_ Citing the decline in American dance activity with the approach of World War II and the diverting of funds for American dance companies and choreographers to European immigrants, Martin felt American modern dancers should "follow Miss Humphrey and Mr. Weidman into self-erected bomb shelters until sanity returns."_

Compared to contemporary danced histories by choreographers like Bill T. Jones and Mark Dendy, Decade seems very dry and formal. For Jones and Dendy, autobiography means revealing and discussing personal fears and anxieties about sexuality, cultural heritage, illness, and violence. Humphrey sticks to her studio life and business dealings, representing herself and Charles Weidman as the Artists in counterpart to Mr Business. Jones and Dendy layer images and texts, complicating their personal histories with cultural and political histories. Humphrey works in a straight line in Decade, moving chronologically, and, while others could certainly benefit from her history, keeping the narrative close to personal events.

Used to choreographers who sought to communicate universal truths through abstract movement and who pursued choreography as art making, rather than social commentary, the critics did not like Decade. Instead of praising Humphrey for her social commentary or her presentation of dance in a theatrical structure, they chided her for failing to press ahead in choreographic invention and for playing to a knowledgeable audience. Sabin remarked that the script "has more than one blemish of taste."_ Robert Conrad, writing in The Nation, objected to the idea of a dance about the dancers' own difficulties. John Martin found Humphrey "manifestly unfair" to the dances. Even though it lasted two hours, Martin thought Decade too brief to encompass the subject matter. He recommended several evenings of retrospective concerts, each prefaced by a spoken prologue that carefully reminded the audience of the era in which the dance was created. Decade was restructured after its Bennington premiere and then reduced to Dances from Decade.

3. Pauline Koner’s The Farewell

In Decade, Humphrey summed up her last ten years and looked forward to a brighter future, free to produce her own work in her own theatrical space. Pauline Koner's The Farewell and José Limón's A Choreographic Offering also mark transitions. At the first performances of The Farewell and A Choreographic Offering, the audiences consisted of a large number of people who knew Humphrey and her work. The dances were cathartic, providing means of remembering the past and putting Humphrey's death in some personal perspective.

Pauline Koner's The Farewell, set to music by Gustav Mahler, was first performed in New York in April, 1962. The Farewell was developed using Humphrey's methods for abstracting movement from everyday experience and contains two brief quotes from Humphrey dances. The work bears testimony to Humphrey's ideas and to her personal and professional impact on Koner. Koner's tribute was performed in New York only four years after Humphrey's death in 1958 and preceded Limón's A Choreographic Offering by two years. In her memoir, Solitary Song, Koner describes the impact of The Farewell on her audience at the 92nd Street Y: "most of the audience had been in tears, especially the many who had known Doris Humphrey."

Pauline Koner had already established a career as a solo artist when she first worked with Humphrey in 1945. Koner’s eclectic fifteen-year career included ballet training with Michel Fokine and partnerships with Michio Ito and Yeichi Nimura. When she began working with Humphrey, Koner’s solo repertory included her own modern and ethnically-derived works. Humphrey acted as editor and guide, helping Koner harness her virtuosity and learn to edit and shape movement material. Koner describes a choreographic session for the “Lamentation” section of Song of Anguish, her first experience working with Humphrey:

In the “Lamentation,” there was a phrase, ‘ . . . and the earth reeled.' . . . Here was a chance to turn, spin, be brilliant. Then Doris’s quiet voice said, ‘Let’s stop a moment. The earth is heavy, the earth is large, and it moves on its axis. Why don’t you take a shape that makes you feel the weight, the largeness?’ I raised my arms to make one simple, downward arc. She said, ‘Now, without moving from your spot, feel as though you are rolling on an axis.’ . .. Immediately I felt a sense of tremendous weight, of boundless space. At that moment I became the earth._

Koner danced as a guest artist with the Limón company from 1946 to 1960. She continued to seek out Humphrey's choreographic advice and often attended extra rehearsals to observe Humphrey's methods. In her book Solitary Song, Koner describes Humphrey's continuing influence on her choreography in mystical terms: "since her death she inhabits me," "(s)he is my dybbuk," "I felt her absent-presence."_ The Farewell, has this strong sense of empathy with Humphrey.

The Farewell is in four parts, "To the Earth," "To Youth," "To Love," and "The Last Farewell," and takes inspiration from the poetry sung in Mahler's work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. Hans Bethge's poetry, sung in German and based on Chinese poems by Li-Po, expresses the feelings of a woman at the end of her life. She beholds the beauty of nature, likening her own life to the cycles of the sun and the seasons, then remembers her youth and love. Finally she returns to the present and dwells on her own mortality. Koner began to develop her own version of the poetry, adding to and deleting portions of Berthge's words. Koner's version of the poetry introduces each section in the 1972 film of The Farewell and accompanies photographs of the dance printed in Dance Magazine in February 1964. In the 1962 program, Koner included only these lines: "Our shimmering memories we take with us/ The luminous self we leave to others."

In the opening of The Farewell, Koner stands centerstage in a brown and orange dress, holding a piece of white elastic that stretches across the width of the stage. A white rope lies in a semi-circle downstage. The elastic symbolizes the "luminous self" - those ideas and attributes people leave behind to inspire others - and the white rope, the "shimmering memories" people take with them in death. Koner releases the elastic to dance "To the Earth." Her movement is based on the natural images of vines and flowers and constantly regenerates. Twined arms and legs grow into a bursting open of fingers then widen into a circling of the arms. The arms circle back to enclose the body and begin the process of growth again.  

Koner leaves the stage and a light projection, two round shapes made of pulsing dots of light, introduces "To Youth." In this section, dancing in a floating pink skirt, Koner skims over the somber quality of the music with light, airy movement. Her chest is open, arms and head thrown back. She performs little jumps - the delighted clapping of hands transferred to the feet — and quick runs. At the end of this section, Koner gathers up half the rope, a symbol of her memory of youth, and places it on the ground. Another light projection — a fiery red ball with a hot yellow center - proceeds "To Love." Koner appears dressed in a red gown. Her movement is always curved and slow. Her arms and occasionally her legs, lifted in attitude, are round and embracing. At the end of this section, Koner gathers up the remaining segment of the rope - her memories of love - and carries the rope offstage. Elongated slashes and diamonds of light introduce the final section, "The Farewell."

In "The Farewell," Koner wears a black dress. She wraps the elastic line around her neck and shoulders and continues to dance with it, testing its stretch and the degree of her own entrapment. This section includes two movements paraphrased from Humphrey dances. Koner performs a bourrée, done by Limón in Night Spell, with the lifeline in her hands, then a slow turn, performed by Limón in Lament, with the lifeline twisting in her hands overhead. At the end of the piece, Koner walks offstage with the lifeline in her hands. As she disappears, she lets the lifeline go. It snaps back to centerstage, reverberating in the empty space.

The distilled movement abstracted from everyday experience in The Farewell is reminiscent of Humphrey's own solo dances and of Day on Earth.   But Koner's work differs from Humphrey's. The Farewell is over twenty minutes long and includes a broad spectrum of ideas and movement materials.   Humphrey's solos were very brief - Two Ecstatic Themes is just over six minutes long - and neatly developed from a single idea or two contrasting ideas. Koner’s symbolic re-ordering of time and exploration of the interior workings of a woman's mind is closer to Martha Graham’s work than to Humphrey’s.

In a 1964 Dance Magazine article, Doris Hering describes Koner's work on The Farewell as a journey. Koner began the dance with feelings of loss and doubt, the aftermath of Humphrey's death. As she worked on the piece, Koner began to identify with the situation of the dance - the mature woman surveying her life and sensing her own mortality - and with Humphrey's possible feelings before her death. After performing the work, she began to see The Farewell as a way of "bringing present and past to rest" and of continuing her life. While The Farewell was especially cathartic for viewers who knew Humphrey, Koner's dance provides this journey for any viewer._

4. Limón's A Choreographic Offering

Limón's A Choreographic Offering is based on Humphrey dances created during Limón and Humphrey’s entangled thirty-year relationship. Limón came to New York City in 1928 to study painting, but soon developed an interest in dance. His first performances with Humphrey-Weidman were in 1929. Limón became a valued member of the company and personal friend. After the disbanding of the Humphrey-Weidman Company in 1945, Humphrey became artistic director of the newly formed José Limón Dance Company. She spent her final thirteen years choreographing for the Limón company and acting as editor and guide for Limón’s choreography.

Daniel Lewis, who joined the Limón company in 1962 after studying at Juilliard, describes the period between 1958 and 1964, after Doris Humphrey’s death, as a difficult time for Limón. He had trouble choreographing and preferred to put his energies into his Juilliard teaching. During the early sixties, the dancers who had been the backbone of the Limón company — Pauline Koner, Betty Jones, Lucas Hoving, and Ruth Currier — left because of personal differences or to pursue independent careers. A Choreographic Offering was made for an essentially new Limón company consisting of young dancers who had been in the company for only a few years, or who were fresh from the Juilliard program. The dance marked Limón’s transformation into a choreographer who could function without his mentor, and heralded the rebirth of the Limón company. Lewis remembers the first performance of A Choreographic Offering at ConnecticutCollege as an extremely emotional event that left all the dancers in tears.

Limón left brief notes of his preparation for A Choreographic Offering. In them, he does not mention why he chose to work with the fourteen Humphrey dances he selected, except to say that “I have taken all the flowers, which are her movements, and put them together. . .”_ The fourteen dances Limón worked with were Gigue, Sarabande, Water Study, Air on a Ground Base, Handel Variations, Circular Descent, The Pleasures of Counterpoint, Dionysiaques, Rudepoema, New Dance, With My Red Fires, Passacaglia in C Minor, Invention, and Ruins and Visions. _ These dances span 1928 to 1953, nearly all the years Limón was associated with Humphrey.   Limón performed in eight of the fourteen selected works. Not all of the selected dances were repertory mainstays.

Limón may have had pragmatic reasons for his selection. These works vary widely in tone and structure and come from different periods of Humphrey's choreographic development. But his choices appear to be a product of personal reminiscence. Ten of the selected works were Humphrey solos, Humphrey and Weidman duets, or dances in which she performed a prominent role. Perhaps Limón chose these works because he associated these dances with Humphrey as a performer and could still see her dancing them in his mind’s eye. In a biographic essay on Humphrey, probably written in the mid-to-late 1960s, Limón divided Humphrey's oeuvre into four categories — formalist, primitivist, humanist, and Dionysian. Under these he lists various Humphrey dances. It's interesting that only one of the works in this group, New Dance, was used in A Choreographic Offering._   When Limón is thinking analytically, he comes up with one list of dances; when he is reminiscing, another list develops.

A Choreographic Offering is an hour long piece set to Bach’s A Musical Offering. As performed in August, 1964, the dance includes thirty dancers, twelve Limón company members and eighteen advanced students. After a musical introduction, a couple crosses the space diagonally from upstage right to downstage left. Two more couples join them. The group dances big, fluid, off-balance, looping movement. Their spatial patterns shift: circles dissolve into diagonal lines and become circles again. Dancers continue to enter the space, dance, and move on as the next dancers appear. Sometimes only one dancer occupies the space, sometimes nine, sometimes twenty-eight. The dance is dream-like and diffuse, each section blending into the next, until the dance’s twelve sections are completed. Limón designed the final movement with a river image, the cast moving from upstage left to downstage right in a repetition of themes from the dance. During the final moment, the dancers furthest downstage seem to be rising from a kneeling position as if their movement should continue.

A Choreographic Offering is an exercise in memory. Within the fluid landscape of the work, bits of Humphrey’s dances surface and shine, sending the viewer into reverie. A triplet with a rebound at the end is a reminder of Humphrey's solo in New Dance. Dancers circling in a pinwheel formation conjure up the group sections of that work. Movements with sharply bent wrists that stick out as idiosyncratic suggest photographs of Humphrey's Dionysiaques. A woman seated on the floor with her palm up, a man standing over her, is reminiscent of an image of Humphrey and Weidman dancing Rudepoema.

As a viewer in 2001, I remember these dances from concerts of reconstructions, photographs, and film. For members of the 1964 American Dance Festival audience, Limón's "paraphrases, variations, and motifs" may have been even more readily linked to Humphrey's dances and the pattern of watching and reminiscing even more pronounced, sending them into memories of Humphrey and of their personal connections with these dances._ Limón originally choreographed the solo parts of A Choreographic Offering for himself, but due to a knee injury never performed them. Betty Jones stepped in for him in New London and in subsequent New York performances. In a New York Times review of the piece’s premiere, Allen Hughes suggests the dance may have had a very different look had Limón performed the solos._ Limón’s presence as a soloist might have suggested further associations and layers of meaning that simply weren't possible with another dancer. Performed just six years after Humphrey's death, A Choreographic Offering must have been cathartic for the audience, a way of dealing with Humphrey's death and a preparation for accepting a Limón company without Humphrey.

A Choreographic Offering has been less a concrete, repeatable dance, than a continuing idea. Limón created a precursor to A Choreographic Offering called Two Essays for Large Ensemble performed by the Juilliard Dance Ensemble early in April, 1964. This dance was built from Humphrey’s large group works New Dance, Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, and Pleasures of Counterpoint. A Choreographic Offering was first performed in August, 1964. The record film, filmed in the studio prior to performance, dates from that time. In November 1964, Limón added a trio to the dance for a performance by American Dance Theatre, a repertory company headed by Limón. By 1969 Limón reduced the dance to nine sections, rearranged the order of the remaining sections, and pared down the large group sections for twelve dancers. After Limón’s death in 1972, his assistant, Daniel Lewis, rearranged the dance again, reducing the dance to seven sections and to 26 minutes in length.

5. Conclusion

Decade, The Farewell, and A Choreographic Offering are remarkable for the choreographers’ uses of existing dances to create danced history. Created for knowledgeable audiences, these rites of passage affirmed past relationships and events and offered a medium through which the past was remembered and accepted. I also appreciate these dances because they help me rethink the nature of modernism. We often think of modernism as a pursuit of individual vision. Dances must appear whole, unique creations of genius. One generation of choreographers must deny the work of their mentors in order to find their own voices. These works, created for special occasions out of special need, make tangible a process that occurs in all work. New dances are built from old ones. New choreographers build on the work of their teachers. Even in the most radical of dance forms where tradition is not overtly honored and kept, we all dance, as Humphrey would have said, “in the long line,” linking past and future.


1)   Letter from Doris Humphrey to her parents. June ?, 1941. Doris Humphrey Collection C-152, Dance Collection, New York Public Library at LincolnCenter.

2) Marcia B. Siegel, Days on Earth. New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 1987, 202.

3) William Stott, Documentary Expression and Thirties America, New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 1973. Stott examines a broad range of artistic and academic documentations of 1930s America including Graham's 1938 American Document.

4) Sabin, Dance Observer, August-September 1941, 93.

5) Alex Kahn, "Nine Dramatic Dialogues," Doris Humphrey Collection M470, Dance Collection, New York Public Library at LincolnCenter.

6) Sabin, Dance Observer, August-September 1941, 93.

7) Stott, 102-118.

8) Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, "Authoring Lives," Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 26, No. 2, 1989, 130.

9) John Martin, New York Times, October 20, 1940.

10) Martin, New York Times, October 20, 1940.

11) Robert Sabin, "Doris Humphrey's Decade," Dance Observer, August-September 1941, 93.

12) Siegel, 206.

13) The work had been shown earlier in 1962 at the Fourth Annual College Dance Festival in Richmond and performed in Hartford with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

14) Koner, Solitary Song, 244.

15) Pauline Koner, Solitary Song. Durham, Duke University Press, 1989, 151.

16) Koner, 239.

17) Koner, 241.

18) The Farewell, chor. Pauline Koner. Filmed in 1972. Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library at LincolnCenter. Koner includes a description of the dance in Solitary Song, 239-245.

19) Doris Hering, "My Words Echo Thus," Dance Magazine, February 1964, 42-45.

20) Daniel Lewis. The Illustrated Dance Technique of José Limón. (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1984) 26-27.

21) José Limón, Notes for A Choreographic Offering, José Limón Collection, Dance Collection, Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library at LincolnCenter.

22) Program Files, José Limón Dance Company and Limón Dance Company, Dance Collection, Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.

23) Limón, Essays, José Limón Collection, Dance Collection, Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.                            

24) A Choreographic Offering, chor. José Limón.   Filmed in the studio at ConnecticutCollege by Dwight Godwin, August 1964. Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library at LincolnCenter. In The Illustrated Dance Technique of José Limón., New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1984, 27, Daniel Lewis states that in the final section each soloist passed through a single spotlight at centerstage which represented Humphrey's presence. This was not apparent in the studio film.

25) Program Files, José Limón Dance Company and Limón Dance Company, Dance Collection, Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.

26) Allen Hughes, "Dance: '64 American Festival Closes," New York Times, August 17, 1964, 28.

27) The final week-end of performances that year were dedicated to the memory of Louis Horst and, secondarily, to Humphrey.

28) A Choreographic Offering, José Limón, as arranged by Daniel Lewis with members of the José Limón Dance Company. Filmed as the Delacourte Theatre, New York, NY, 1976. At initial showings of the Lewis version in 1972, the dance was performed without program notes. Program notes usually list Humphrey's fourteen works, state the dance is "in memory of Doris Humphrey," and"based on movements from her dances" or "contains variations, paraphrases, and motifs" from her dances.

The author

Ann Dils (PhD, The Department of Performance Studies, New YorkUniversity) is an assistant professor in the Department of Dance, University of North Carolina, Greensboro where she teaches courses in dance history and dance research and writing. She is (along with Ann Cooper Albright) co-editor of Moving History/ Dancing Culture: A Dance History Reader (Wesleyan, 2001). Dils's recent writings appear in Performing Arts Journal, Dance Research Journal and The Korean Journal for Dance Studies.

Ann Dils


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