Mar 23, 2014
Ted Shawn: A Life Devoted to Muscles in Motion
He grew up in a conservative Methodist church where dancing was forbidden, and attended the University of Denver, intending to become a minister. But after a bout of diptheria, he was prescribed dancing to restore his strength, and liked it so much that he continued, in spite of being expelled from college in 1911.
Ballet Russe in 1909.
Determined to do something about the absence of male dancers, Shawn and his wife Ruth St. Denis opened the Denishawn Dance School in Los Angeles in 1914, and choreographed both male and female dancers. One of their students was dance great Martha Graham.
Soon Shawn was touring with dances inspired by classical, Egyptian, and Native American traditions, such as Xochitl and Les Mysteres Dionysiaques.
They toured throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe for the next 11 years, with patently homoerotic dances derived from tribal cultures: The Hopi Indian Dance, The Dyak Spear Dance, The Sinhalese Devil Dance.
Shawn also founded the Jacob's Pillow dance school, theater, and library in Beckett, western Massachusetts. It hosts over 80 dance-related events every year, including an annual Dance Festival.
He devoted his life to mentoring male dancers, starting male dance programs in colleges across the United States, and increasing the visibility of the male form.