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Ted Shawn

Ted Shawn

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drednm ( 2007-02-28 )

Source: Ted Shawn biography by Walter Terry One Thousand and One Night Stands by Ted Shawn

Ted Shawn was born in 1891. In his early 20s he was dancing professionally in Los Angeles. Teamed with Norma Gould he starred in a 1912 film for Thomas Edison entitled The Dance of the Ages. In 1914 he met and married dance star Ruth St. Denis. They became a huge hit on the theater circuit and started the famous Denishawn dance school in Los Angeles. Among their pupils were movie stars, Lillian Gish and Louise Glaum. D.W. Griffith hired Shawn and St. Denis to choreograph and appear in his famous scene from Intolerance (1916), the dance on the steps before the huge city gates of Babylon. Shawn also appeared in Cecil B. De Mille's 1919 film, Don't Change Your Husband. He appeared as a faun in a fantasy scene with Gloria Swanson and famously kissed Swanson for 28 seconds. During the 1920s Shawn and St. Denis toured the country with their extravagant Denishawn dance company, which included Louise Brooks. They were a huge hit on tour, on Broadway, in recitals, and even in vaudeville. By the 1930s and with the Great Depression, they broke up the act and Ted Shawn started the nation's first dance company for men. Out of the Denishawn schools came star dancers like Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, and Doris Humphreys. Shawn also appeared in a number of documentaries on dance as well as TV shows of the 1950s. He founded the famous Jacob's Pillow Dance Center in Massachusetts in 1932. It's still going strong. Ted Shawn dies in 1972. He is known as the Father of American Dance.

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