Shawn, Ted

Shawn, (Edwin Myers) Ted

(1891–1972) dancer, choreographer, dance festival administrator; born in Kansas City, Mo. Intending to study theology, he took up dance at age 18 as a cure for paralysis. Won over to ballet, he debuted in 1912 and after a tour met and married Ruth St. Denis in 1914. They settled in Los Angeles in 1915 and founded the Denishawn School of Dancing (moved to New York City in 1921) and the Denishawn Dancers. They toured throughout the world, taught many who would become leading figures of modern dance in America, and choreographed their own dances; several of Shawn's drew on Native American themes. By 1932 Shawn and St. Denis were separated and he moved to Lee, Mass., where he began a school just for male dancers (1933–40); he also toured with this company. The school was disbanded with the onset of World War II, but in 1941 he established the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (Becket, Mass.) and built it into an internationally recognized summer school and performance showcase. From 1945 on, St. Denis and he performed together again on special occasions. He gave a solo tour in Australia (1947) and led the Jacob's Pillow Touring Company (1952). He wrote several books on dance, including Dance We Must (1940).