Subject Notes

Ruth St. Denis, dancer (1878-1968)

Ruth St. Denis was a pioneer of contemporary dance in America. She was a sensation in her early years performing individual dances like Radha and Incense. Ruth St. Denis entered the inner realisation of the figures of divinity that she chose to perform - like Mary, Kwan Yin, the Yogi, O-Mika and others and from that feeling danced a vision of perfection. By choosing figures from many different cultures, Ruth St. Denis presented a wordless show of unity before thousands of audiences all over the world throughout her life.

In her unpublished book The Divine Dance (1933), Ruth St. Denis wrote of her vision of a future dance for life and peace:

"The dance of the future will no longer be concerned with meaningless dexterities of the body.... Remembering that man is indeed the microcosm, the universe in miniature, the Divine Dance of the future should be able to convey with its slightest gestures some significance of the universe.... As we rise higher in the understanding of ourselves, the national and racial dissonances will be forgotten in the universal rhythms of Truth and Love. We shall sense our unity with all peoples who are moving to that exalted rhythm."

Courtesy PeaceWorks Publications, 2001, publishers of Wisdom Comes Dancing, Selected Writings of Ruth St. Denis on Dance, Spirituality and the body.