Humphrey, Doris (1895-1958) By Main, Lesley
In the history of modern dance, Doris Humphrey’s significance traverses performance, choreography, pedagogy, and advocacy for the emerging art form in mid-century America. Her explorations of natural movement drew on principles she identified as ‘fall and recovery’, the yielding and resistance to the gravitational pull of the body. Humphrey’s predominant concern was the creation of ensemble dances, with signature works such as New Dance and Passacaglia coming out of residencies at the Bennington Summer School of the Dance. Her choreographic emphases lay in design, form, structure and lyricism alongside fluid musical dancing. The Humphrey-Weidman Company, which she co-directed with Charles Weidman, performed extensively in New York City and nationally between 1928 and 1946, bringing this new form of dance to the American people. From 1946 until her death in 1958, Humphrey served as artistic director of the Jose Limón Dance Company. John Martin, dance critic of the New York Times, said of her, ‘Doris Humphrey is an enduring part of the dance in America, as the granite under the soil is enduring. We can turn nowhere in the art without finding her’.