July 2, 2012

Ruth St. Denis: Fabulous Vintage Photos of a Modern Solo Dancer From the Early 20th Century

Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968) was an early modern dance pioneer. She was born in 1879 on a New Jersey farm. The daughter of a strong-willed and highly educated woman (Ruth Emma Dennis was a physician by training), St. Denis was encouraged to study dance from an early age. Her early training included Delsarte technique, ballet lessons with the Italian ballerina Maria Bonfante, social dance forms and skirt dancing.

Ruth began her professional career in New York City in 1892, where she worked as a skirt dancer in a dime museum and in vaudeville houses. Dime museums featured "leg dancers" (female dancers whose legs were visible under their short skirts) in brief dance routines. St. Denis was probably required to perform her routine as many as eleven times a day.














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