Small Group

AIR FOR THE G STRING (1928) (Bach)
5 women; 5 minutes

This work, set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s serenely soaring Air on the G String from his Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, can be viewed as early evidence of Doris Humphrey’s innate belief in the nobility of which the human spirit is capable. “There is not one broken, erratic gesture; the entire dance expresses an Apollonian dream image in which a philosophical calmness moves the mind. There is a cathedral-like quality in the reverential gestures of the hands and in the facial expressions, which suggest an inner exaltation in keeping with the music’s sustained spiritual mood.” – Ernestine Stodelle.

FANTASY AND FUGUE (Mozart) (first and third movements by Doris Humphrey, 1952;
second movement by Ray Cook, 1995)
4 women, 2 men; 12 -13 minutes

A pure dance that derives its contrapuntal and fugue themes from the music.

NIGHT SPELL (1951) (Rainier)
2 women, 2 men; 20 minutes

Night Spell presents a sleeper who is tormented by dreams, and dream figures who emerge from his night consciousness. The nightmarish terror is dispelled and replaced by an image of love when the sleeper ultimately clasps one of the dream figures to himself.

PARTITA (1942) (Bach)
6 women, 1 man; 8 minutes
This work, created as an alternative to more serious compositions, is a playful suite of dances based on the court dances of 17th century Europe and choreographed to Bach’s Partita in G Major. Doris Humphrey said that “Bach thought it was fun to do a set of these partitas on odd Sunday afternoons, and three centuries later people, even dancers, are entitled to have fun too. It was built on the rhythms and shapes of folk dances."

 

RITMO JONDO (1953) (Surinach)
4 women, 5 men; 12 minutes (short version) or 4 women, 4 men; 20 minutes (long version)

To tantalizing Spanish rhythms, a band of assertive males present themselves to a group of feminine admirers. They court them with sweeping abandon—and then leave them to attend to more urgent matters. With its swirling, cascading motions for the women and vibrating, thrusting steps and gestures for the men, this work sets up a counterpoint of masculinity and femininity.

RUINS AND VISIONS (1952) (Britten)
4 women, 4 men; 43 minutes
This is a dramatic piece inspired by a poem by Steven Spender, in a setting that suggests the period of World War I, 1914-1918, but is valid, of course, at any wartime period, including our own. "A protective mother isolates her son from the harshness of reality; at the theater they watch unmoved as an actor-lover murders his mistress; in the street they ignore the newsboy whose papers announce war. Finally, when the son is brought back dead from battle, the various characters, united by grief, relinquish their artificial self-involvement to face reality together." - Selma Jeanne Cohen.

SOARING (1920) (Schumann)
5 women; 3 minutes, 30 seconds
An alternately calm and stormy fantasy that interprets Schumann’s Aufshwung and Doris Humphrey’s own vision of “the lyrical idea of wind, wave and cloud in the fleeting form of a great veil.” One of the most beloved dances of the Denishawn repertoire, Soaring was created with the assistance of Ruth St. Denis as a one of her well-known “music visualizations.”

SONATA PATHETIQUE (1920) (Beethoven)
7 women; 11 minutes
Strong, emphatic chords of the piano set the tone for this early music visualization. A cluster of women, far upstage left, charge the open space as if venturing heroically into the future. The soloist commandeers the group into an array of formations until finally they resist and all sink to the ground, leaving the soloist standing upright as if declaring victory.

Choreography

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