Weidman, Charles (July 22, 1901 Lincoln, Nebraska – July 15, 1975 New York City) By Prickett, Stacey
Charles Weidman had a profound impact upon the development of American modern dance. Collaboration with Doris Humphrey initiated his choreographic journey: their movement experimentations evolved into a technique based on the actions of fall and recovery, and breath and suspension. They established the Humphrey-Weidman Studio and the Humphrey-Weidman Company in 1929, with Weidman working individually throughout the partnership, which lasted until the mid-1940s. One of the few American male dancer-choreographers of the period, he explored gender distinctions in dance and enabled the creation of works that delved into male–female relationships when many other major performing groups were all female. The concept of kinetic pantomime shaped Weidman’s portrayals of the everyday, such as the film-inspired comedy Flickers (1942) and Lynchtown (1936), which offered a critical commentary on the horrors of lynching. At the other end of Weidman’s aesthetic spectrum are dances known for a more formalist musicality, such as Brahms Waltzes (1961), created for the Charles Weidman Theatre Dance Company. Throughout his career Weidman crossed between the entertainment and high arts worlds, creating successful Broadway shows and nightclub revues while choreographing for opera companies and concert dance stages. Weidman’s legacy has spread through his teaching and work with prominent Broadway and modern dance performers and choreographers.