Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Denishawn Dances On|
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Between 1919 and 1931, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and their company toured the entire United States, England, Cuba and the Far East. Within that period, they created some 300 pieces, using their original technique based on... more »
The Foundation of American Dance
krebsman | New York, NY United States | 11/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What's great about this program is that it recreates the major works of Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Dennis that I had only read descriptions of. Former Denishawn dancers Jane Sherman and Barton Mumaw have reconstructed such signature works as Gnossienne, Incense, White Jade, Black and Gold Sari, Tillers of the Soil and O Brother Sun, O Sister Moon. Very little of the dancing seems particularly inspired, but at least the moves are there. As the narration reminds us, St. Denis was not a modern dancer, but an interpretive dancer. Some of the dances just look like a woman swirling her dress around and making snake-like movements with her arms. But a lot of it is quite interesting, too. I especially liked "Soaring."
What's not so good is the amateurish quality of the recording itself. The video is often blurry and the sound is basically terrible. The music is performed by a solo piano in a room with very poor acoustics. To make matters worse, in some places (most notably the Brother Sun/Sister Moon dance) it sounds like it was recorded on a warped tape. The body of work of the Shawns is enormous and the 23 dances included on this DVD is only a small sampling. It's a pity that none of the all-male dances that Shawn created for his Men Dancers is included. But in spite of the major shortcomings of this DVD, it's really thrilling to actually see the authentic dances of Denishawn. Where else can we see them? Denishawn is the real foundation of American Dance. Until a better recording comes along, this DVD should be in every library's dance collection. I give it three-and-a-half stars, rounded off to four.