Shawn, Ted

Shawn, Ted (Edwin Myers Shawn), 1891–1972, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Kansas City, Mo. Introduced to dance as physical therapy, he taught ballroom dancing, then married (1914) the dancer Ruth St. Denis. They formed the Denishawn dance company, with schools in Los Angeles and New York, and choreographed interpretive dances based on many cultural traditions. After Denishawn disbanded (1931), he founded Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, which featured athletic, masculine movement and was instrumental in gaining acceptance for American male dancers. His company's home near Lee, Mass., also hosted the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (from 1940). Shawn created numerous solos as well as ensemble pieces, including Four American Folk Dances, O Libertad, Labor Symphony, Olympiad, and Kinetic Molpai. He wrote several books on dance, including How Beautiful upon the Mountain: A History of Jacob's Pillow (1947), and an autobiography, One Thousand and One Night Stands (1960).

See biography by W. Terry (1976).

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