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Charles Weidman

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Charles Weidman, Photo courtesy of New York Public Library


As a boy in Nebraska, Charles Weidman (1901-1975) studied with Eleanor Frampton and was inspired to become a dancer at fifteen by Ruth St. Denis in a touring performance. For schoolmates in 1919, he gave his first concert of nine solos derived from the St. Denis aesthetic. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles and joined Denishawn, where he studied and performed for eight years. Weidman brought a very masculine approach to dancing that drew other men to the art form. His wit, "kinetic pantomime," and abstract movement added singular appeal to dances such as On My Mother's Side, Daddy Was a Fireman, Flickers, and Fables for Our Time. With Doris Humphrey, he founded the Humphrey-Weidman Studio and Company in New York in 1928. When she retired from performing in 1945, he established the Charles Weidman Theater Dance Company and, in 1960 with Mikhail Santaro, the Expression of Two Arts Theater. In memory of Humphrey, Weidman created Brahms Waltzes, a lyrical work with not a single waltz step. Other later dances include Saints, Sinners, Scriabin; King David, and Visualizations from a Farm in New Jersey.

Pictured left: Charles Weidman in a photograph ca. 1931 capturing the kinetic expressiveness for which he was renowned as a performer. (Photograph from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)


Read an essay by Ann Dils and Clay Daniel -- Selected resources