Magazine article Dance Teacher

Doris Humphrey

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Doris Humphrey

Article excerpt

José Limón's teacher and the dancer responsible for "fall and recovery"

Doris Humphrey, like her contemporary Martha Graham, was interested in making dance more reflective of modern times. In collaboration with Charles Weidman, she developed the concept of fall and recovery-using the pattern of breath to inform movement. She was José Limón's teacher and mentor, and though she wasn't interested in creating a technique, her ideas became part of what is today known as Limón technique.

Doris Humphrey (1895-1958) first encountered dance at her progressive grammar school, where she studied with Mary Wood Hinman. After Humphrey briefly ran her own dance school in her home state of Illinois, Hinman encouraged her to study at the Denishawn school in Los Angeles. Humphrey became one of the school's stars, studying, teaching and performing over the course of 11 years. In 1928, she left to explore her own ideas beyond the colorful but superficial style of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. She and fellow Denishawn dancer Charles Weidman formed the Humphrey-Weidman Dance Company.

Over the next four years, Humphrey and Weidman choreographed more than 40 dances, touring their repertory throughout the United States in the 1930s. They and their company members served on faculty at the summer sessions of the Bennington School of the Dance, where Humphrey was given the chance to work on her own choreography. She became interested in the relationship between breath and momentum and developed a theory of fall and recovery that would become the basis of Humphrey-Weidman style. One of her earliest students at the Humphrey-Weidman school was José Limón, who quickly became part of her company. …

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