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Goucher College Chosen to House Doris Humphrey Collection and Doris Humphrey Foundation for Dance.

Release date: February 06, 2008

On Thursday, February 7, 2008, executive director of the Doris Humphrey Institute and founder of the Doris Humphrey Repertory Dance Company Minos G. Nicolas, and Charles H. Woodford, son of American modern dance pioneer Doris Humphrey, will donate to Goucher College the licensing rights to 23 of Humphrey's works, as well as their memorabilia.

With this donation, Goucher College will have the largest collection of Humphrey's materials in the United States and, through the newly created Doris Humphrey Foundation for Dance, will administer the performance and licensing rights to her works.

A contract-signing ceremony in lieu of the donation will take place at 2 p.m. in the Admissions Conference Room in Dorsey Center.

The memorabilia will be catalogued and placed in the Doris Humphrey Collection, which will be on display and available for research in the Goucher College Athenaeum in summer 2009. The collection will include costumes, recordings, sets, light plots, films, videos, original musical scores, and choreographic notes related to Humphrey’s various works.

Amanda Thom Woodson, chair of Goucher’s Dance department, will serve as the foundation’s director. Woodson and dance faculty members, including Professor Chrystelle Trump Bond, will serve on a review committee that will establish artistic standards of performance for the 23 Humphrey works and accept or reject requests to perform the works. Performance and licensing fees will be established by the donors and Woodson.

Humphrey (1895-1958) is renowned for her groundbreaking choreography and her innate sense of musical ability and form. She began her career early in life, opening her own dance school in Chicago in 1913 at the age of 18.

In 1917, she joined the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts in California and began performing in the United States and Asia.

Humphrey and fellow dancer Charles Weidman left the Denishawn school in 1928, and started the Humphrey-Weidman Company in New York City.

In New York, Humphrey developed a new style of dance around the principles of fall and recovery, utilizing the body's potential to travel between the polarities of balance and imbalance. Her early works, "Water Study," "Life of the Bee," and "Two Ecstatic Themes," reflect her fascination with the subject. 

Central to Humphrey’s approach to dance was her belief in its power to communicate pathos, complexity, and the richness of life through motion and gestures.  Her work also reflected current events and concerns, capturing the American spirit.

In 1945, arthritis forced Humphrey to retire from performing, so she joined the José Limón Dance Company in New York as its artistic director. There she choreographed the masterpieces "Day on Earth," "Night Spell," and "Ruins and Visions."

Her various works reflect her mastery of the intricacies of large groups and emphasis of sculptural shapes.

Humphrey's book, The Art of Making Dances, in which she shared her observations and theories on dance and composition, was published after her death and is still used as a guide for fledgling choreographers.

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