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Denishawn: The Birth of Modern Dance
Denishawn The Birth of Modern Dance
Actors: Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2006     0hr 40min

This historic dance documentary tells the story of one of the least-publicized, yet most influential modern dance companies in America. Founded by Ruth St. Denis and her husband Ted Shawn at the turn of the century, Denis...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Dance, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 02/28/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 0hr 40min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Better than nothing
krebsman | New York, NY United States | 11/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The story of Denishawn is a huge, sprawling one that spans nine decades and several continents. To try to squeeze two larger-than-life personalities and their amazing contribution to the world of dance into only 40 minutes is simply impossible. This little TV film is wrong-headed from the start. The worst parts of the film are the fake interviews with [hammy] actors portraying the elderly Shawn and St. Denis. This sort of thing may work in the theatre, but in a film blurs the line between fact and fiction and casts everything else in a questionable light. (The filmmaker also seems to focus a great deal on the marital relationship of the Shawns without ever mentioning that both of them were homosexuals.) The best parts of the film are the archival footage of Shawn and St. Denis dancing their own work. We actually get to see a few seconds of Shawn performing the Dance of Shiva and the Death of Adonis. There is also some footage of Jane Sherman's recreations of dances from the Denishawn repertoire, but these can all be seen on the DVD DENISHAWN DANCES ON. The filmmaker botched a great opportunity here. I would have much preferred a straightforward documentary. The film nonetheless provides a sketchy, once-over-lightly introduction to St. Denis and Shawn for the uninitiated. If this film prompts further interest in its subject, it's worth having. I'll be generous and give it three stars simply because there is so little about Denishawn in circulation these days and something is better than nothing."
A dissapointment
thomas gladysz | San Francisco, CA | 09/29/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"What the world needs is an "American Masters" or Ken Burns like documentary about Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and the Denishawn Dance Company (who at times included such key figures as Martha Graham, Charles Weideman, Doris Humphrey, and the silent film star Louise Brooks). Together, and as individuals, they left an indelible mark on American dance and culture. They were spiritual, mystical, modern, groundbreaking, sensual and even at times erotic. Dissapointingly, this short film only scratches the surface of their incredible story. The vintage images and film clips are the main attraction."
Informative but Disappointing
Joyce Sanders | Virginia | 01/09/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Great for a history of Denishawn. This DVD includes restages of the dances that were created by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, but I felt I was missing out on the essence of these dances because they were not performed by the founders themselves. It is a DVD made as well as possible as it could have been made at the time, it just leaves you wishing they had made it much earlier while the actual poeple were still alive."
Lighten up!
Lea Logan | Bay City, TX United States | 01/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With as little as is available to us about early interpretive dancers, this DVD is pretty good. It's worth the price for the exercises at the beginning! These people worked their tails off for years with very little acknowlegement or praise! Yes, the actors are sort of boring, but overall it's swell. I taught a modern class the other day where the kids thought Martha Graham was a CRACKER! Let's be generous and grateful for anything we can get that will help to educate our young dancers!"