Photographer Barbara Morgan is well-known for chronicling the development of modern dance from the 1930s to the ’50s. Her portfolio includes such luminaries as Erick Hawkins, Pearl Primus, Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham. Now 38 of her historic images are in the charge of the UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
Morgan’s grandson Nils Morgan and his wife Kara Rillings Morgan donated the collection after discovering the link two UMass professors had to his grandmother’s work.
Nils Morgan, who had been seeking out universities to receive the photos, first approached professor Paul Dennis after learning that he had danced with the José Limón company. Limón’s image is prominent among Barbara Morgan’s work. Dennis forwarded that message to Peggy Schwartz, who, it turned out, had worked closely with Nils’ father Lloyd years earlier to exhibit Pearl Primus photos, some of which had never been seen before. Currently Schwartz and her husband Murray are co-authoring The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus.
Faculty will use the photos as part of a history of 20th century dance course and students can use the exhibit as a “teaching” gallery, much like the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY. UMass’ dance department plans reconstructions of Primus and Doris Humphrey works for its December 2010 concert to go along with the exhibit. For more: www.umass.edu
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This Sunday, master ballet teacher Finis Jhung turns 80. After a career as a soloist for both San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey and a principal for Harkness Ballet, Jhung carved out a unique place for himself as a ballet teacher in New York City. He's coached the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical, developed a popular video and DVD how-to series and STILL teaches seven classes a week at the Ailey Extension. He's graced the pages of this magazine to offer his time-honored wisdom again and again, and he's currently working on a memoir. (We can't wait to read it.) Happy birthday, Finis!
Since 1989, tap dancers have been celebrating National Tap Dance Day (NTDD) on and around May 25, the birthday of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This year, prime events are happening in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
When you think of a major basketball team's dancers or cheerleaders, you probably picture the Laker Girls—scantily clad, with shiny curls cascading down their backs. You definitely don't picture a group of 15 40-years-old-and-up "seniors," mean-mugging and ripping off breakaway pants. But the New York Liberty's Timeless Torches do exactly that, and they routinely bring down the house during halftime at the WNBA games where they perform.
The exhibit Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972 is filled with exhibits, performances and conferences honoring the three postmodern dance living legends.