The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On April - 26 - 2009
I was researching costumes in the early 1900s when I stumbled on a remarkable find. Although I had originally wanted to post about costumes in general, the astounding nature of these images made me realize that there was no way to present them appropriately unless I devoted an entire post to them. So all of these pictures are of Ruth St. Denis and this post in general devoted to the beauty and charismatic grace that seems to be embodied in each photograph of her. I will do my best to describe this woman and give a short background, but I am sure that no words can describe her better then simply scrolling through the remarkable images she has left us.

Ruth St. Denis lived roughly between 1878-1978 and is considered a pioneer of contemporary dance in the United States. She was born on a New Jersey Farm and was encouraged to dance from an early age. Her professional carrier began in 1892 where she did skirt dancing in a dime museum in vaudeville houses. These were short dance routines where female dancers wore short skirts that showed their legs. In 1892 Ruth was noticed by Broadway producer and director David Belasco and was hired as a featured dancer and given her stage name “St. Denis”. In 1900 Ruth St. Denis’ interest in eastern cultures informed the creation of her own dance technique. This technique was based on her early training and the historical reading she did about ancient cultures. She left the Belasco Company and began her solo carrier in 1905. Ruth St. Denis designed the solo dance Radha, where she (with three extras) told the story of a mortal maid who was loved by the god Krishna. Radha used elaborate costumes and integrated her understanding of Indian culture and mythology with her background on the American stage. Her solo carrier continued to blossom as she toured Europe with her mother performing her solo act which now had expanded to include The Cobra, Incense, The Nautch and The Yogi.

1904_Ruth_in_first costume_for_Radha

1904. Ruth St. Denis in first costume for Radha. Bust portrait. . National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0008V.

1906 Ruth St. Denis Radha Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

ca.1906. Ruth St. Denis in Radha. . National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0032V.

1906 Ruth St. Denis The Cobras Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1906 Ruth St. Denis in The Cobras. Photographed by Hartwig, Aura. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0114V.

1908 09 Ruth St. Denis Radha Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1908-09. Ruth St. Denis in Radha. Photographed by Sarony, Otto. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0085V.

1910 Ruth St. Denis Egypta Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1910. Ruth St. Denis in Egypta. Photographed by Sarony, Otto. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0234V.

1913 Ruth St. Denis Scherzo Waltz Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1913. Ruth St. Denis in Scherzo Waltz. The encore was always an improvised burlesque of Victor Herbert’s Al Fresco. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0274V

1916 Ruth St. Denis in Black and Gold Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1916. Ruth St. Denis in Black and Gold. Photographed by Nautch. Hartsook. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0218V.

1917 Ruth St. Denis in Costume image1 Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts1917 Ruth St. Denis in Costume image2 Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

c.1917. Ruth St Denis in costume. Photographed by White Studio (New York, N.Y.) National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Glue spillover on image, upper right edge. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0459V and Digital ID: DEN_0460V.

1918 Ruth St. Denis Siamese Ballet Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1918. Ruth St. Denis in Siamese Ballet. Photographed by McBride. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_0483V.

1918 Ruth St. Denis Dance of Theodora Strelecki Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

Ruth St. Denis in Dance of Theodora Strelecki. Photographed by Jean de, count. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_1438V.

1923 Ruth St. Denis Burmese solo dance Ruth St. Denis In all her dramatic glory.arts

1923. Ruth St Denis in a Burmese solo dance. Photographed by Muray, Nickolas. National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Project. Denishawn Collection. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Digital ID: DEN_1529V. 1923.


For further reading see the links bellow.

http://www.ruhaniat.org/lineage/RSDBio.php

http://www.pitt.edu/~gillis/dance/ruth.html

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Categories: arts, women

One Response

  1. Melisende says:

    What an amazing collection of pictures – and fashions!!!!

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