Humphrey, Doris

Humphrey, Doris,

1895–1958, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Oak Park, Ill. Humphrey was a featured soloist with the Denishawn Company (see St. Denis, RuthSt. Denis, Ruth
, 1877–1968, American dancer, b. Newark, N.J., whose name was originally Ruth Dennis. After her debut (c.1893) she toured with David Belasco. In 1906 she began her recitals of highly imaginative and spectacular dances inspired by the arts and religions of
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; Shawn, TedShawn, Ted
(Edwin Myers Shawn), 1891–1972, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Kansas City, Mo. Introduced to dance as physical therapy, he taught ballroom dancing, then married (1914) the dancer Ruth St. Denis.
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) until 1927. She then formed her own company with Charles WeidmanWeidman, Charles,
1901–75, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Lincoln, Neb. Weidman performed with the troupe formed by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn from 1920 to 1927, when he and Doris Humphrey left to form their own company and school.
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, which performed for 16 years, producing such dancers as José LimónLimón, José
(José Arcadio Limón) , 1908–72, American modern dancer, choreographer, and teacher known for powerfully masculine dancing and dramatic choreography.
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. One of the foremost figures of modern dancemodern dance,
serious theatrical dance forms that are distinct from both ballet and the show dancing of the musical comedy or variety stage. The Beginnings of Modern Dance

Developed in the 20th cent.
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, she developed experimental concepts in form and content in such works as Water Study (1928) and Theater Piece No. 2 (1956). In 1955 she was instrumental in founding the Juilliard Dance Theater in New York City.


See her autobiography, ed. by S. V. Cohen (1972).

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Humphrey, Doris

(1895–1958) modern dancer, choreographer; born in Oak Park, Ill. A student and performer in the Denishaw Company in her early years, she formed a company in New York with Charles Weidman in 1927. She staged 83 works with her company—including The Pleasures of Counter-point (1932)—and taught at several performing arts high schools and colleges. After retiring from performance in 1943, she served as artistic director of the José Limon Company (1946–58). An innovative influence on modern dance, she was best known for her "fall and recovery" technique; she set forth her ideas in The Art of Making Dance (1959).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.