Ruth St. Denis

When Ted Shawn first saw Ruth St. Denis perform in 1911 he was enthralled. He was nineteen; a student fresh from religious studies and a ballroom dancer. He looked at the famous, thirty-two-year-old dancer with adoration. She combined his two great loves – dance and spirituality. Little did he realize that three years later he would see her again, she would employ him to perform ballroom dancing routines in her shows, and within the year they would be married.  Continue reading “Ruth St. Denis”

Appreciation

Dancing, at its best, is independence and intimacy in balance. As in all areas of life when people have to work closely together, dance couples often argue. Appreciation goes a long way in healing and transforming stressed relationships. Some time ago, my dance teacher decided to try and reduce the arguing which frequently accompanies the practice sessions. He asked his training couples to stand in a circle and then, one-by-one, to say something they sincerely appreciated about their partner. They did what he asked and, almost imperceptibly, a sense of peace seemed to breathe into the room. My teacher reminded his students that none of them could know how long they would have their dance partner or even their dancing career and it would be good to be grateful for their partner. The rest of the practice was indeed calm, cooperative, and harmonious. To dance with another person or to work or live or create anything with another person is a privilege. Such a thing cannot be bought, only freely given as the gift of oneself. It should be respected. Continue reading “Appreciation”

Veloz and Yolanda

Frank Veloz and Yolanda Casazza appeared on the cover of the 1939 Time magazine as the Greatest Dancing Couple. Both were Christian Scientists at a time when Christian Science was at its height. Yolanda had a natural, humble quietness when she was off-stage. She normally preferred plain day clothes because she said that pretty clothes were for performance. On stage, Yolanda wore delicate and exquisite dresses which were designed by Frank. She carried a knitted bag with her wherever she went. It contained the Bible and Science and Health. In this way, her faith was always close at hand. Yolanda’s strong faith helped her with the normal demands of life and the heavy demands of being constantly in the limelight. The daily reminder of simple, powerful spiritual principles was a protection from the common pitfalls of fame such as, addiction, depression, mental instability, and an ego gone crazy.
Continue reading “Veloz and Yolanda”

The Flame Ignites

I had resigned myself to the idea that dancing, for me, was going to be an unfulfilled yearning. In my mid-twenties, I had told myself that I was already too old for dancing and I had best transfer all such longings into a more suitable outlet. The dancing flame was buried and I took up the violin. Playing the violin was enjoyable enough but, you see, I wasn’t a musician. I was a dancer. Continue reading “The Flame Ignites”