Return to the Leonard H. Axe Library home page
~ Axe Home - Library Help - Search - Databases - Catalog ~

Louise Brooks and the Denishawn Dancers


Louise Brooks performed in Pittsburg as a member of the Denishawn Dancers, a troupe originated by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.

These articles originally appeared in the Pittsburg Daily Headlight and the Kansas State Teachers College Collegio and Kanza. The illustrations and their captions did not appear within the original articles. Most illustrations are thumbnail links to a larger image.


Advertisement in the Pittsburg Daily Headlight, Jan. 31, 1924, p. 8, col. 2.
Pittsburg Daily Headlight, Feb. 1, 1924, p. 2, cols. 1-2:
Kansas State Teachers College Collegio Feb. 1, 1924, p. 1, cols. 1-2:
Kansas State Teachers College Collegio Feb. 1, 1924, p. 1, cols. 5-6:
Kansas State Teachers College Collegio Feb. 7, 1924, p. 1, col. 1:
Pittsburg Daily Headlight, Feb. 4, 1924, p. 3, cols. 1-3:
The Kanza 1924 p. 243

Links to related Sites:


Pittsburg Daily Headlight,
Jan. 31, 1924, p. 8, col. 2.


Advertisement

Advertisement


Roll Lindburg Drug Store

Roll Lindburg Drug Store
324 N. Broadway, reproduced from the Woody Meiszner collection of Pittsburg, Kansas, postal cards (housed in the PSU Kansas Collection).


Pittsburg Daily Headlight,
Feb. 1, 1924, p. 2, cols. 1-2:


"Capacity Crowd Will See Denishawn Show. Large Advance Sale for Performance at Teachers' College. Students Buy Out Balcony and General Public Makes Heavy Reservations for Saturday Night's Attraction,"

"The seating capacity of Carney Hall will be taxed for the Pittsburg appearance of Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and the Denishawn Dancers tomorrow night, according to indications of the ticket sales, it was announced today by Prof. F. H. Dickinson at the Lindburg drug store, where the tickets are on sale. There has been a steady demand for seats since the board opened this morning, he said. The seats of the balcony have been reserved for the student body of the College.


Franklin H. Dickinson (1876-1940)

Franklin H. Dickinson (1876-1940)
assistant professor of industrial and applied arts. Reproduced from the Kanza (Pittsburg, Kan.: Junior Class, Kansas State Teachers College, 1924): 36.


"Non-residents also have applied for seats. Several persons from Fort Scott, Weir, Girard, Columbus and Joplin already have purchased seats. Mr. Dickinson advised the early purchasing of seats to assure accommodations.


Hotel Stilwell

Hotel Stilwell
A. F. and B. L. DeGuines, proprietors, 707 N. Broadway, repro- duced from the Woody Meiszner collection of Pittsburg, Kansas, postal cards (housed in PSU Kansas Collection).


"Reservations have been made at Hotel Stilwell by the troupe, which will arrive in Pittsburg on the Santa Fe from Independence at 3:30 o'clock Saturday afternoon. The dancers come from an appearance at Independence, and will go from Pittsburg to Joplin for a performance.

"A program arranged to give pleasure from beginning to end, not only as a mere entertainment but also by its appeal to the artistic sense--an exposition of an art which is highly original in conception and execution, yet for all that an art whose technic is securely founded on a classical basis--will be presented when Ruth St. Denis with Ted Shawn, her husband, and the Denishawn Dancers make their initial appearance before a Pittsburg audience.

"The program will be varied, passing from 'visualizations' of the first movement of Beethoven's 'Sonata Pathetique,' Chopin's 'Revolutionary Etude,' and Schumann's 'Spring,' through a Spanish Suite and a prehistoric Mexican ballet to various dances of the Orient.

"Miss St. Denis' continuing beauty and potent grace, her power of charm in its inner sense, her still remoteness of spirit, her delicate and mask-like face, make her a fitting exponent of dances of the east, where motion has been coordinated into ritual, through centuries.

"To her subtleties Ted Shawn adds his frank beauty and as- tonishing grace. Ted Shawn, in addition to being an artist of the highest skill, has an almost perfect physique. His dancing in all his appearances have been marvelous, not only in perfection of motion, but in the individuality which he puts into his interpre- tations.

"Both Miss St. Denis and Mr. Shawn are great enough to be generous and therefore prominent place is given to others than themselves: their pupils star in some of the roles.

"It is doubtful if there has been placed before the public anything to compare with the program offered by Miss St. Denis, Mr. Shawn, and the Denishawn Dancers. There are other interpreters of the dance--Pavlowa, Genee, Duncan--but it is stated none of these women are [sic] quite equal to the versatility displayed by St. Denis, nor in any of their own special numbers any stronger than she.

"The costumes worn in the program are very magnificent, and the lighting effects the last word in aesthetic effect. Louis Herst [i.e., Horst], conducting a symphonic quartet in accompaniments of an admirable character, is a feature of the St. Denis program that cannot be too high commended.

"The entire atmosphere of the performance is one of complete consecration to art, for art's sake.


The Denishawn Company, 1923-1924

The Denishawn Company, 1923-1924
Reproduced from Barry Paris, Louise Brooks
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989): 43.
Louise Brooks is pictured in the middle of the left column


"The ensemble is composed of Doris Humphrey, Leonore Scheffer, Louis[e] Brooks, Georgia Graham, Ann Douglass, Theresa Sadowska, Martha Hardy, Pauline Lawrence, Pearl Wheeler, George Stearns, Charles Weidman, Robert Graham and T. Roy Busclark."


Kansas State Teachers College Collegio
Feb. 1, 1924, p. 1, cols. 1-2:


"Miss St. Denis an Inspiration to Noted Sculptors and Artists. The Grace and Singular Beauty of the Denishawn Girl Dancer Has Been Preserved in Marble and on Canvas,"

"Herself an artist of the first order, Ruth St.Denis, foremost interpreter of dancing on the American stage today, has always been an inspiration for artists, photographers and sculp- tors. She has even made great strides in her profession since she first became known as the creator of the original Kewpie. It was Miss O'Neill who designed and executed the border drawings on the window cards which announce the coming of Miss St. Denis, Ted Shawn and the Denishawn Dancers to this school tomorrow night.


Drawing of Ruth St. Denis by Rose O'Neill

Drawing of Ruth St. Denis by Rose O'Neill,
[Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg] Collegio, Feb. 1, 1924, p. 1, col. 3/4.


"Those familiar with the work of both Miss St. Denis and Miss O'Neill will fully realize that joint contribution has been made to art when the brush of one of these great women sought to immortalize on paper the exquisite grace of the other. Miss O'Neill recently gave up her studio in New York for one in Paris and there she has succeeded beyond her wildest expectations as some of her pictures have already found place on the walls of the Paris Salon.

"Miss St. Denis likewise is equally well known in both Europe and America. Last spring, she, together with Mr. Shawn and a group of Denishawn Dancers, appeared for five consecutive weeks at the Coliseum in London, taking the engagement played there annually by the Diaghileff Ballet Russe. Before the war she danced for two solid years in Berlin and Vienna and also had lengthy seasons in London and Paris.

"Her return to the American stage last October after a period devoted to the Denishawn School in Los Angeles was widely welcomed. There is only one Ruth St. Denis. No other dancer has been so catholic in her taste. No other has gone so far afield in her search for variety and novelty. The program to be given here will embrace 'Music Visualizations' of Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and Liszt. There will be Spanish dances to the music of Granados, Jones [sic] Moszkowski. Mr. Shawn will come to the fore in his own dance drama 'Xochitl,' based on an ancient Toltec legend and the entire ensemble will appear in a series of dances representative of China, Japan, India, Egypt, Java, Siam and Crete.

"'Every woman is plainly labelled in a secret writing that the initiated can read,' said Ruth St. Denis in a recent interview. 'The lazy girl betrays herself by the way in which she walks. The bad tempered girl is apt to show it by hasty little steps and gestures and the girl of high mental development broadcasts the fact by her every movement.

"'I do not claim that dancing is a cure-all,' Miss St. Denis continued.'I do not claim that it can do all for the individual that the practitioners of auto suggestion, for instance, claim for their method, but I do think that dancing, yes, dancing in di- aphanous garments, is good for the soul.'

"In the case of the Denishawn Dancers, together with Miss St. Denis and her husband, Ted Shawn, it would seem that dancing does bring all hearts into tune, for a happier aggregation of in- dividuals it would be hard to find. The youths and maidens who compose the company have all been Denishawn students for several seasons and are now like one family."


Carney Hall, Kansas St. Teachers College, 1925

Carney Hall
Reproduced from the Kanza (Pittsburg, Kan.: Junior Class, Kansas State Teachers College, 1925): [5].


The Kansas State Teachers College Collegio
Feb. 1, 1924, p. 1, cols. 5-6:


"Denishawn Dancers Tomorrow Night. Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn Will Delight Pittsburgers. Carney Hall Is Site Chosen for an Ex- hibition Which, for Rhythm, Grace and Originality, Is Said To Be Unexcelled,"

"The dance art of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, who, with the Denishawn Dancers, come to the college Saturday night, is as universal as life itself and varied. Almost every nationality of the world is represented.

"The program they will present here includes a blood-tingling Spanish Suit danced by Miss St. Denis and Ted Shawn to the intoxicating melodies of Granados' 'Danza Espagnol,' in which Miss St. Denis will wear the famous shawl presented her by Galli-Curci; Jonas' 'Tango' and Moskowski's 'Malaguena.'

"The western hemisphere is represented by 'Xochitl,' a dance- drama based upon an ancient Toltec Legend of prehistoric Mexico, with the choreography and costumes originated by Ted Shawn, the music especially composed by Homer Grunn, and a gorgeous scene designated [i.e., designed] by Francisco Cornejo.

"The languorous and mystic charm of the Orient is represented by dances of China, Crete, India, Siam, Japan, Java and Egypt.

"A pastoral note is given by 'In a Garden,' danced to a new Valse composed by Mischa Levitki, and to Moskowski's Waltz Op. 34.

"In this program, one group is devoted to what Miss St. Denis has called 'Music Visualization.' She has employed this term in order to avoid the use of the overworked and rather meaningless terms 'interpretative' and 'classic' as applied to the new movement in the dance.

"The Denishawn Dancers attempt in these music visualizations to translate accurately into visible form the actual mathematical and architectural construction of the written composition. 'Here,' Miss St. Denis explains, 'there is no dancing as the music makes the dancer feel--no aimless wandering about the stage, picking imaginary daisies and drinking from invisible fountains, but rather each eighth note, each arpeggio, each trill is conscientiously paralleled by an analogous movement of the dancer with careful thought to the rendering of the melodic themes.

"This group includes Beethoven's 'Sonata Pathetique,' Chopin's 'Revolutionary Etude,' Schuman's 'Soaring,' Brahms' Waltz, and Liszt's 'Liebestraum.'

"The Denishawn Company, beside Miss St. Denis and Ted Shaw, includes Martha Graham, Pearl Wheeler, Betty May, Lenore Scheffer, and Paul Mathis, with an instrumental quartet conducted by Louis Horst.


'The Greek Veil Plastique'

The Greek Veil Plastique
Photograph by Witzel, Los Angeles, reproduced from "Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis: Pioneer & Prophet, II" (San Francisco: Printed for John Howell by John Henry Nash, 1920): plate 44.


"Make Draperies Dance and Talk"

"A unique evolution in the modern classic dance, which Ruth St. Denis has originated, is the use of draperies in such a way that the flowing and billowing chiffons and silk are just as ex- pressive of the mood and meaning of the dance as the steps and bodily movements employed.

"In watching the Denishawn Dancers perform a charming diver- tisement called 'The Wind,' a huge square of rose colored India silk, manipulated by the dancers, gives the most fascinating il- lusion of the vagaries of the air, from gentle zephyrs to wild hurricanes.

"When asked how she managed to make the piece of rose colored silk take on this breathing, almost living quality, Miss St. Denis answered, 'I have always been interested in fabrics--in their bewitching magic quality, in their expressiveness, and from the very first presentation of my dances. I have experimented with them for effects. It is just a matter of studying your material. By finding how different weights and qualities of silk will react to the currents of air produced by the movements of the arms and the legs and the body of the performer, one can by persistent experiment achieve as sensitive and fine expression of beautiful feeling and thought by handling a piece of fabric as the harpist can get by playing his instrument.

"'I have always wondered,' Miss St. Denis continued, 'why the modern Occidental woman has so absolutely overlooked the po- tentialities of fabrics as the chief decorative element in dress. Our French and American modistes go in for line; the material em- ployed is only of secondary importance. Would it not be better if we were to follow the custom of the Hindoo women, whose sari, made of some priceless fabric, lasts for ten years at least. Made of a straight piece of material, the fashions never vary, but the color and quality of the fabric do'."


Kansas State Teachers College Collegio
Feb. 7, 1924, p. 1, col. 1:


"Artists Please KSTC Students. Denishawn Dancers Add to Admirers Here. Carney Hall Is Filled. Huge Auditorium Is Crowded with Spectators Eager To Witness Marvelous Dancing of Ted and Ruth,"

"In spite of the general opinion that Saturday night is a poor time for an entertainment, the auditorium of Carney hall was filled last Saturday when Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and the Denishawn dancers gave their interpretation of the art of dancing.


Interior of Carney Hall, Kansas State Teachers College

Interior of Carney Hall
Kansas State Teachers College, reproduced from the University Archives, Axe Library, Pittsburg State University.


"The spectators evinced their appreciation by repeated applause and many favorable comments were heard at the close of the program, which was divided by intermissions into four parts. The first consisted of what Miss St. Denis calls 'Music Visualizations'; the second contained the 'Spanish Suite' and 'In the Garden'; the last two were representations of various civilizations, both ancient and modern.

"The entire third part was given to ancient Mexico and was called 'Xochitl' or the 'Flower.'

"The rising curtain disclosed Ted Shawn as Tepancaltzin, Emperor of the Toltecs, seated on his throne arrayed in gorgeous robes covered with colored feathers. A flute player represented by Robert Gorham was entertaining him with music. A Toltec, who had discovered how to brew an intoxicating liquor from the maguey plant, entered with his daughter, Xochitl, bearing a bowl of the liquor which he presented to the emperor. The emperor drained the bowl, then falling under the influence of the brew, had his ser- vants lure the father away. He then seized Xochitl and tried to carry her off, but in answer to her screams her father reappeared and would have killed the emperor had not the daughter pleaded for his life. At the close the emperor called in his whole court to witness the ceremony of making Xochitl the Empress of the Toltecs.

"Last came the oriental nations. China was represented by Miss St. Denis as Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy. Mr. Shawn suggested the ancient Cretan civilization by appearing as a priest of Knossis, dancing before the snake-goddess. Siam was depicted by her native gods. India, Java and Japan were also shown. The last number was Egypt. The portrayal of the life of the common people of the time of Tut-Ankh-Amon began the scene which closed with the Dance of the Rebirth."


'The Egyptian Ballet'

The Egyptian Ballet
Photograph by Putnam & Valentine, Los Angeles, reproduced from "Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis: Pioneer & Prophet, II" (San Francisco: Printed for John Howell by John Henry Nash, 1920): plate 21.


Pittsburg Daily Headlight,
Feb. 4, 1924, p. 3, cols. 1-3:


"Denishawns Please Capacity Audience. Dancers Received with En- thusiasm at Teachers College. Colorful Performance, Filled with Varied Features, Keeps Interest Sustained for the Entire Two Hours,"

"An audience for two hours showed its appreciation of the art of Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and the Denishawn dancers, as displayed Saturday night at Carney Hall. Virtually every seat in the spacious auditorium of Carney Hall was filled.


George Wilson Trout (1863-1947)

George Wilson Trout (1863-1947)
Dean of Students, professor of history and social science, reproduced from the Kanza (Pittsburg, Kan.: Junior Class, Kansas State Teachers College, 1924): 16.


"From a financial standpoint the result was very satisfactory, Dean G. W. Trout of the Teachers' College announced this morning. Saturday's night's receipts had not been checked but the loss on the performance, if any, would be small, Dean Trout said.

"The first part of the program was devoted to music visualizations and the Beethoven 'Sonata,' the last number of this group, was possibly the most beautiful on the program. The moonlight setting, the light, the color, the charm of graceful motion were added to the harmonies of subdued music, each them being interpreted by groups of dancers.

"Tells Dramatic Story"

"This was followed by Chopin's 'Revolutionary Etude,' the colorful number of the group. The drama of Ted Shawn's attitude as the revolutionary, the whirling, passionate abandon of his scarlet-draped associates, and the intensity of the moment when the form of his love drops inanimate at his side, a part of the toll of the revolution, will not soon be forgotten.

"Miss Doris Humphrey was well received in a solo number, Chaminade's 'Valse Caprice.'

"Rhythm, delicacy, gaiety held sway in the Schumann number, 'Soaring,' which followed, and which was danced by an animated group made up of Misses Lenore Scheffer, Georgia Graham, Margaret Dickenson, Ann Douglas and Martha Hardy. With all the grace of young girls they danced, tossing aloft the silken scarf they carried, now in the form of a balloon, now a wave, and now as a cloud.


Ruth St. Denis in the Scherzo Waltz

Ruth St. Denis in the Scherzo Waltz
Photograph by Moffett, Chicago, reproduced from "Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis: Pioneer & Prophet, II" (San Francisco: Printed for John Howell by John Henry Nash, 1920): plate 36.


"Miss St. Denis' interpretation of Brahm's waltz was one of the most beautiful dances of the performance and among the heartiest received by the audience. Every note of the orchestral quartet found response: A swinging violin tone, a swaying of her body; an ascending run, a rising whirl; odd notes on the flute, graceful movement of fingers. Nothing in the music escaped its visual accompaniment, not a muscle moved without a coordinate sound from the orchestra.

"Every Gesture Counted"

"Miss St. Denis can express by gesture and postures more shades of meaning than the ordinary actor could with words. She was seen in the interpretations of Beethoven's 'Sonata Pathetique,' the Brahm's waltz and the 'Dream of Love' (Leibestraum) of Liszt.

"Other than in the first group she appeared as a dashing Spanish girl; she was perhaps at the height of her achievement in her Oriental numbers as 'Quan Yin,' goddess of mercy; as the Nautch dancer; as 'O-Mika' of Japan; and with her husband, Ted Shawn, in the Egyptian 'Toilers of the Soil' and 'Dance of the Rebirth.'


Toilers of the Soil

Toilers of the Soil,
Photograph by Anne Brigman, Oakland, reproduced from "Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis: Pioneer & Prophet, II" (San Francisco: Printed for John Howell by John Henry Nash, 1920): plate 48.


"Her change in facial expression to suit each type portrayed was nothing short of phenomenal and her expressive hands alone would give the exact character to any impersonation.

"The second interlude was opened with a 'Spanish Suite,' a colorful and rarely pictorial offering, which included a 'Shawl Plastique' by the star, a tango by Mr. Shawn and a thrilling 'Malaquena,' by the two of them. Miss St. Denis appeared as a dashing Spanish girl in the first number of the interlude, handling her gorgeous shawl with its rich embossing of huge red flowers with inimitable coquetry.

"Spanish Suite a Favorite"

"From the opening classic, Beethoven's 'Sonata Pathetique' to the closing, 'Dance of the Rebirth,' the audience sat as under the charm of a spell, but only in the 'Jonas Tango' which Mr. Shawn danced in the Spanish suite did it seem to give full vent in applause of appreciation, and it called the dancer for a repetition of his number.


Louise Brooks: 'I'm a Denishawn dancer,'

Louise Brooks: "I'm a Denishawn dancer"
White Studio, New York, 1923, reproduced from Louise Brooks, Lulu in Hollywood (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982): 40.


"A remarkably lovely number was 'In the Garden' danced by the Misses Leonore Scheffer, Georgia Graham, Louise Brooks, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. Miss Humphrey appeared in a solo number, Von Blom's 'Serenade Amour.' The Misses Scheffer, Graham and Brooks appeared in 'Betty's Music Box' by Bond, and with Charles Weidman in a Moszkowski waltz.

"Enact Toltec Legend"

"The Toltec legend was, for savage splendor and barbaric passion magnificently and dramatically staged, the music inclining toward the Oriental and Far East rather than to the Indian as one would conceive it.

"One of the most outstanding figures in the program was Georgia Graham, who did particularly wonderful and colorful work as the Xochitl (the flower) when she played opposite Shawn in this dance drama.

"This number included Miss Graham; Ted Shawn as Tepancaltzin, emperor of the Toltecs; Charles Weidman as the father of Xochitl; Robert Gorham as the flute player and an ensemble of maidens and court dancers.

"The final interlude dealt entirely in 'Orientalia,' depicting the dances of China, Crete, India, Siam, Japan, Java and Egypt. The group was long and elaborate, and showed a sumptuous array of costumes.

"The first, depicting China, showed Miss St. Denis as Quan Yin, Chinese goddess of mercy. Moving with the slow grace of the Chinese maiden, Miss St. Denis was like an Oriental image, infinitely graceful and delicate, and modestly reverent.

"In contrast was the leaping, panther-like sinuosity of Ted Shawn as a priest of Knossos in a dance of typical of Crete which followed.


Ruth St. Denis as Parvati, a Nautch dancer

Ruth St. Denis as Parvati, a Nautch dancer
Photograph by Ira Hill, New York, reproduced from "Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis: Pioneer & Prophet, II" (San Francisco: Printed for John Howell by John Henry Nash, 1920): plate 15.

"Miss St. Denis as a Nautch dancer in her Indian number repeated one of her greatest successes.

Ted Shawn, Lenore Scheffer, Charles Weidman and Robert Gorham depicted Siam in a weird bit of Oriental pantomime.


"Gives Japanese Dance"

"Miss St. Denis, a kimonoed maid of Nippon, was assisted by Louise Brooks and Robert Gorham in a dance of Japan.

"Ann Douglas and Charles Weidman were principals in the Java dance, 'The Princess and the Demon.'

"Symbolical Egyptian dances followed with the entire company in the ensembles, with Miss St. Denis, Mr. Shawn, Mr. Weidman and Robert Gorham featured. The famous 'Dance of the Rebirth,' one of her best known numbers, was the brilliant finale.

"Throughout the entire entertainment the gorgeous beauty of costumes and settings and the remarkable lighting effects were powerful contributive factors to the artistry of the performance and in every instance the care given the manner of exits and the closing tableaux achieved most striking and effective results.

"The artists made acknowledgement of indebtedness to the orchestral quartet under Louis Horst, the pianist-conductor.


Lambda Phi Delta officers

Reproduced from The Kanza
(Pittsburg, Kan.: Junior Class, Kansas State Teachers College, 1924): 134.


"Following the entertainment Saturday night the Beta chapter of the Lambda Phi sorority presented Miss St. Denis with the honorary pin of the organization to which she was elected by the Gamma chapter in Kansas City last week.

"The troupe was in Joplin last night, where it was again well received."


"Calendar," The Kanza
1924, p. 243:


"Feb. 2. Denishawn dancers"

Ted struts his stuff. Four girls have the blues because he won't smile at them."


Ted Shawn

Ted Shawn,
Photograph by Blechman, reproduced from Ruth St. Denis, An Unfinished Life: An Autobiography (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1939): opposite p. 163.


Louise Brooks and Ted Shawn

Louise Brooks and Ted Shawn
In The Feather of the Dawn, 1923, reproduced from Louise Brooks, Lulu in Hollywood (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982): 41.

Last Modified: Jan 12, 2007 - 09:58
http://library.pittstate.edu/spcoll/dance.html

Is this valid XHTML 1.0 Strict? _ Is this Bobby/508 level 3 compliant? _ Does this CSS validate?