Charles Weidman (1901 – 1975, U.S.A.) is a modern dancer, choreographer and teacher that starts his path through dance after being touched by a show of the Denishawn Dance Company. He moves to Los Angeles to take their classes and is very soon given important roles in the company’s pieces.
In 1928, Weidman and Doris Humphrey abandon the Denishawn Company together, to continue their own artistic explorations in different directions. They work both together and independently in new choreographic proposals that express their own aesthetical positions.
For the case of Weidman, his dances are close related to a theatrical sense and have a social nature, related to American (U.S.A.) subjects. His choreographic vocabulary is known for including moves that arise from a depuration of pantomime and daily human gestures. Though his pieces are assorted in their character, he is most known for his construction of comedy and satiric pieces, in which he shows a great ability to observe and reveal society and its customs.
There’s a long list of dance pieces attributed to him, though it is not easy to find related information in the popular books about dance history. These are some of the titles of his most renowned work:
- "Atavisms" (series consisted of “Lynch town”, “Bargain Counter", and "Stock Exchange")
- "Flickers" (inspired in the movement of silent movies)
- "Brahms Waltzes" (done specially for his partner Doris Humphrey)
- "This Passion" (about the subject of murder)
- "My father was a fireman"
- "On My Mothers’ side"
- "The war between men and women"
- "Oratorios" (about religious topics)
Unfortunately, there’s almost no audiovisual material available of his work. However, “Lynchtown” (1936), from the series called Atavisms, has been arranged from surviving parts by Robert Coleridge in 2002 at The School of Toronto Dance Theater and they’ve shared it at YouTube. Here are two excerpts of it:
There’s also an active institution dedicated to maintain his legacy: The Charles Weidman Dance Foundation, Inc.. They are devoted to reconstruct, stage, present, and preserve his work, principles and legacy.
Comedy and contemporary dance (article on issue # 17 of our e-zine)
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