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date: 17 September 2019

Weidman, Charleslocked

  • Barbara Palfy

Extract

(b Lincoln, NE, July 22, 1901; d New York, July 15, 1975). American dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Weidman studied dance as a youth locally and then with former Ballets Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff, going on to Denishawn in California to finish his training and to perform with the company for six years. In 1928 a number of the dancers rebelled against the exotica they were performing and left to find new ways of moving, becoming the pioneers of what would be called modern dance. With fellow dancer Doris Humphrey the Humphrey-Weidman Company was formed in New York, lasting until 1945 as a major troupe of the era.

While the innovative movement vocabulary they presented was primarily Humphrey’s contribution, Weidman developed an approach to dancemaking that he called “kinetic pantomime”: starting with an everyday gesture and letting it spool out improvisationally. Always an arresting presence on the stage, he created solos and group works that were full of characterization. His sensibilities were attuned to all shades of life, expressed in works that could be scathing as in his statement against bigotry in ...

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