Doris Humphrey

Doris Batcheller Humphrey ( born October 17, 1895 in Oak Park, Illinois, † December 29, 1958 ) was an American dancer and choreographer. She was one of the pioneering figures of modern dance.


Her father was a journalist and previously worked as a hotel manager, his mother a pianist. One of her ancestors, Elder William Brewster, was among the Pilgrim Fathers who came on the Mayflower from England. Doris Humphrey grew up in Chicago, where she studied dance with Mary Wood Hinman at the Francis Parker School. When the Santa Fe Railroad organized a presentation for their workers, they had their first gig at age 18. With her mother as support and pianist she was allowed to travel to the West. Since her father did not have good business, they not only had to earn money for themselves. Therefore, she opened her own dance school in 1913 in Oak Park, with her mother as manager and pianist.

At the suggestion of her former teacher, Mary Wood Hinman, 1917 she went to Los Angeles to attend a summer course. There they began in 1918 at the Denishawn School study. Here, her talent was recognized and she got next solo roles in performances in addition the opportunity itself to give lessons, so she won more financial freedom.

Their choreographies from this period are: " Valse Caprice " ( " Scarf Dance "), " Soaring " and " Scherzo Waltz". In 1928 she completed her training successfully to start with Charles Weidman dance company "The Humphrey - Weidman Group". In 1928 she performed " Water study" from 1929 and " Life of the Bee " on. In 1930 she went to the Dance Repertory Theatre, where she performed "drama of motion" and from 1931 "Two Ecstatic Themes " and "The Shakers ".

Despite the Great Depression, which prevailed at that time in America, the Company and its choreographer was successful. She developed a new style of dance. In 1932 she married Charles Francis Woodford in 1933 and got her first son, Charles Humphrey Woodford.

In 1935 she made ​​with " New Dance Trilogy " a national tour and danced a triptych " With my red Fires ", " New Dance ", and the lost " theater piece " New Dance, With My Red Fires, and Passacaglia. In 1938 she appeared in " Passacaglia on Fugue in C Minor " on. In 1940, she opened in New York, the Humphrey - Weidman Studio Theatre. One of her latest pieces was "Dawn in New York." She took because of arthritis in 1945 farewell to the stage and has been artistic director of the 1946 José Limón Dance Company. She also choreographed on, there emerged " Day on Earth ," " Night Spell", "Ruins and Visions " and 1949 " Guggenheim Fellowship ."

Humphrey was one of the founders in 1951 of the dance department at the Juilliard School. 1953, she leads the Dance Company for Children " The Merry -go- rounders ". In 1954 she choreographed the piece " Capezio Award for outstanding Contributions to Modern Dance". After that, the Juilliard Dance Theatre was founded by her. In 1958 she finished her book "The Art of Making Dances " and began an autobiography. After her death on December 29, 1958 1959 her piece " The Brandenburg Concertos " listed posthumously.

Literature / works

  • Ernestine Stodelle: Doris Humphrey and her dance technique. A workbook. Drawings by Teri Loren. From the American Ebba D. Drolshagen and Ursula Miihlberger. Fricke, Frankfurt 1986, ISBN 3-88184-080- X.
  • Doris Humphrey: The Art of Making Dances. For the choreography of modern dance. (Original: The art of making dances. ) From the American by Karin Vial. Noetzel, Heinrichshofen books, Wilhelmshaven, 1989, ISBN 3-7959-0415-3.