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Arthur F. Kales, American, (1882–1936)
Miss St. Denis And Pupils, c. 1915
Vintage silver print
7 1/2 in. x 9 3/8 in. (19.05 cm x 23.88 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of C. Jane Hurley Wilson '64 and Michael G. Wilson, Wilson Centre for Photography, London, UK
Accession Number: 2008.4.22

Widely known as the “Mother of Modern Dance,” Ruth St. Denis was a pioneer of modern dance in the United States. As audiences were awed by the lavish, worldly productions produced by her dance company, the ensemble thrived and opened branches around the country. St. Denis and her partner, Ted Shawn, cofounded the dance school, Denishawn, to teach young women non-western based dance styles. Originally a farm girl from the countryside, St. Denis believed that all girls could learn to dance. This concept inspired many young women to join the Denishawn School. St. Denis believed that the universe was within the self and encouraged her pupils to use dance as a language for communicating spiritual truth. The young dancers strived to present their bodies as a spiritual vessel, like St. Denis. This photograph captures the adoration the Denishawn students had for their teacher and mentor. Her powerful presence is evident here in the admiring gaze of her students. Kales’ decision to photograph St. Denis with her students in nature expresses the relationship that St. Denis shared with her students. The young women seated on the ground encircle St. Denis, who is standing with her arms reaching outward, visually communicating her maternal and dance wisdom. Just as the tree in the background provides cover and protection for the dancers, St. Denis’s body and soul branch out, embracing her pupils as she teaches them to become one with nature, themselves, and the universe. Liv Townsend ’14 Wilson Intern 2013

Object Description
"At her country home, Eagle Rock, California. Woman & girls on a lawn wearing dance costume. Initials stamped in red on margin, mounted, signed & titled in pencil on reverse"

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