Reclaiming Charles Weidman (1901-1975) An American Dancer's Life and Legacy

Author: Lancos, Jonette
Year:2007
Pages:620
ISBN:0-7734-5463-2
978-0-7734-5463-7
Price:399.95
Charles Weidman (1901-1975), a distinguished dancer and choreographer, is recognized as an originator of twentieth-century American dance. This study traces Weidman’s life from his early years in the Midwest, including his training at the Denishawn School, his friendship with Martha Graham and José Limón, his partnership with Doris Humphrey and Pauline Lawrence, in establishing their Humphrey-Weidman School and Company, to the formation of the Expression of Two Arts Theatre with visual artist Mikhail Santaro. This work examines Weidman’s concert works, Broadway shows, and opera productions, where his modern dance ideas revitalized these theatrical forms. Weidman’s training system is analyzed by stressing its lineage, his men’s group, rebound principle, floor work, use of drums and rhythm, and his kinetic pantomime. The study follows global influences on early modern dance, of which Weidman was a part, and which were motivating factors in his artistic development. This work investigates how Weidman’s aesthetic values are related to modernism; his interest in preserving his works for future generations; it also contains recollections from dancers who have performed with Weidman. Now, thirty years after his death, evidence is beginning to shed new light on Charles Weidman’s enormous influence upon and legacy for modern American dance. This book contains 39 photos.

Reviews

“If the legacy of Charles Weidman were not somewhat eclipsed by Doris Humphrey and José Limón, his two famous colleagues, this book would need no foreword. But this is far from the case. Dance historians have glossed over the work of Weidman, with the exception of this very full account by Jonette Lancos, who has made every effort to open the way to an understanding of Charles Weidman’s life and dance. Her book represents careful scholarship and unflagging attention to all aspects of his choreography and performance ... May the reader discover the same joy I felt in achieving a fuller view of Weidman and modern dance history through this well-rounded study.” – Dr. Sondra Horton Fraleigh, Professor Emeritus, Department of Dance, State University of New York College at Brockport

“In her book revealing the depth and breadth of Weidman’s legacy, Lancos, through her historical storytelling of Weidman’s life and contributions, provides evidence and compelling details for his effect on contemporary dance technique and choreographers.” – Ambre Emory-Maier, Director of Education, BalletMet Columbus

“This work is a comprehensive account of Charles Weidman’s history, artistic development, teachings, life and contributions to dance. Through Lancos’ depth of research, comprehensive detail and clarity, it is undeniable that Charles Weidman necessitates this in-depth and satisfying account of his influences and contributions to dance.” – Professor Melanie Aceto, Department of Theatre & Dance, State University of New York at Buffalo

" Jonette Lancos has presented the dance world with a precious gift in her comprehensive new book on the life, work and legacy of American modern dance pioneer Charles Weidman...(this book)will be a profoundly valuable resource to dance history scholars and students. This carefully-researched, inclusive and detailed portrayal gives Mr. Weidman the consideration that has heretofore been denied him" - Bill Evans, Professor of Dance Emeritus University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Founding Director of the Bill Evans Dance Company

"What a joy to encounter such a well-researched work on Weidman, who is closely associated with, and often obscured by, the great dancer Doris Humphrey. Lancos (SLTNY, Geneseo) had unique ties to Weidman: she performed many of his dances (and set some for students) and knows people who worked closely with him. Those connections make this first full accounting of Weidman an authentic work of much depth and insight. In setting the scene, whether it be presenting Weidman's Nebraska roots or his work with the Denishawn School, Lancos provides a backdrop that helps the reader understand the whys behind Weidman's endeavors. From Broadway to the concert stage, his artistic vision was affected by his environment and those in it. Lancos quotes Weidman as saying that "we wanted to do something that would be of the world today, modern. Modern, that was the whole idea." The book could not be more complete. From comments by people who knew him, to the wonderful appendixes including pictures and line drawings of the technique, this is a must read for anyone interested in the history of modern dance." - L K. Rosenberg, Miami University, for Choice

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgements
Introduction
1 A Vocation
2 Early Years (1850-1920)
3 The Global Influence (1890-1930)
4 Dancing with Denishawn (1920-1928)
5 Dancing with Martha Graham (1920-1930)
6 The Humphrey-Weidman Alliance (1928-1938)
7 Democracy and Patriotism (1930-1940)
8 Shaping a Movement Style and Technique
9 A New Decade (1938-1948)
10 Living His Own Dreams (1930-1960)
11 Expression of Two Arts (1960-1970)
12 Coming Full Circle (1970-1975)
13 Legacy and Witnesses
Epilogue
Appendix A – Weidman’s Body Bends Series
Appendix B – Weidman’s Dance Techniques in Figure Drawings
Appendix C – Weidman’s Dance Chronology
Appendix D – Selected Phrases from the Labanotation Score of Weidman’s Lynchtown by Els Grelinger, notator and Odette Blum, editor
Notes
Bibliography
Index