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St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968


Modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis, nee Ruth Dennis, was born on January 20, 1879 in Newark, New Jersey. Her training began as a child with the practice of physical exercises developed by Francois Delsarte. As a teenager, she appeared in Broadway musicals and was a protégé of David Belasco, a theatrical producer. She combined spirituality, eastern culture, and religion in her dance routines. Christian themes were also explored and depicted in her works.

In 1914, she married dancer Ted Shawn and they headed dance companies that performed around the world. They formed Denishawn, which was a dance company, a school with branches across the country, and a concept of dance.

St. Denis continued to perform until she passed away at the age of 89 on July 21, 1968.


Thom Hecht, "Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968) America’s Divine Dancer," last accessed June 22, 2018,