Modern Dance Pioneers: Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis By: Gigi Schaefer and Michaela DiVitoTed Shawn was born on October 21, 1891, in Kansas City, Missouri, with the name Edwin Myers Shawn. He died on January 9, 1972, in Orlando, Florida. He met Ruth St. Denis in 1914, and they married that same year. He is best known for incorporating different ethnic styles into his choreography. In between the years 1933 and 1940, he formed a group of male dancers. He choreographed a large number of their dances, some examples being Labor Symphony and Kinetic Molpai. He used labor movements and folk dances to influence his choreography for the group, which attracted many males to the idea of pursuing a dance career. (Britannica 2018). Ruth Dennis was born on January 20, 1879, in Newark, New Jersey. She died on July 21, 1968. She loved theatre and dance from a young age. Taking inspiration from an Egyptian cigarette poster, Ruth began to invest her time and research into Asian dance styles. She studied Hindu religion and culture, and performed for the first time under her new stage name, Ruth St. Denis, in 1906. Her first work was called Radha, and was based on a milkmaid who was the wife of Krishna, a Hindu God. (Britannica 2018). In 1914, Ruth held auditions to find a male partner in her dances. She chose, and eventually married Ted Shawn. Together they created and ran Denishawn, a school and company. They were known for performing and choreographing ethnic and religious style dances. They trained Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman, all now famous dancers and choreographers. When Ruth and Ted split in 1931, Ruth formed the society of Spiritual Arts where we focused on Christian themes of dance. She praised Mary, mother of Jesus, as a goddess, creating the Masque of Mary dance. (Gale Virtual Reference Library 2011).Edwin Meyers Shawn grew up in Denver, Colorado. He really wanted to become a minister for Methodists. While he was just nineteen, studying theology at University of Denver, he got diphtheria, which left him temporarily paralyzed. To recover from his illness, he started to learn ballet from Hazel Wallack, who was on break from the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Shawn fell in love with dance, but his theology professors did not approve. This led him to leave the school and seek a career in dance. In 1930, Ted Shawn moved to Massachusetts and taught dance at Springfield College to male students. His dances, led by Ted, toured around America until they returned to Massachusetts. Ted advocated for more masculine dance forms, and wrote an essay called, “Dancing for Men”. (Gale Virtual Reference Library 2011).