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Ruth St. Denis papers, 1880-1968
1031  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968) was a modern dance pioneer who combined spirituality and dance. Throughout her career, St. Denis’s dances were greatly influenced by eastern culture and religion. In the later years of her career, Christian themes were also explored and depicted in her works. Her papers include handwritten journals, personal and professional correspondence, essays, poems, lectures, choreographic notes, musical scores, dance programs and ephemera, photographic prints, reel-to-reel audio recordings, books from her personal library, and business materials. The collection spans the majority of her life, though the bulk of collection derives from the 1920s to her death in 1968.
Background
Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968) was a modern dance pioneer who combined spirituality and dance. Throughout her career, St. Denis’s dances were greatly influenced by eastern culture and religion. In the later years of her career, Christian themes were also explored and depicted in her works. Born Ruth Dennis in New Jersey, she later added “St.” as part of her stage name. St. Denis’s training began as a child, with the practice of physical exercises developed by François Delsarte. This greatly influenced her future style of dance. As a teenager, she appeared in Broadway musicals and was a protégé of David Belasco. Inspired by a poster advertising Egyptian Deities Cigarettes with an image of the Egyptian goddess Iris, St. Denis began choreographing dances that expressed the goddess’s mysticism. The first dance piece that brought her into the circuit of higher art was Radha, which she first performed in 1906. This dance portrayed the story of Krishna and his love for a mortal maid. St. Denis’s intention was to create a work that would serve as a spiritual expression of eastern cultural themes.
Extent
79.2 linear ft. (157 boxes, 8 cartons, 17 flat boxes)
Restrictions
Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Availability
Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.