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Doris Humphrey

American dancer, choreographer, educator, and company director
Doris Humphrey spinning in white dress with arms raised


There is only one thing to dance about: the meaning of one’s personal experiences. Doris Humphrey

Born Oak Park, Illinois October 17, 1895. Died December 29, 1958.
Doris Humphrey is one of the founders of American modern dance.Many of her dances speak of man’s nobility and are an affirmation of faith in the world and humanity. Water Study, choreographed in 1928, embodies Humphrey’s elements of “fall and recovery” (the process of falling away from and returning to equilibrium), breath rhythm (phrasing and dynamics associated with breathing) and natural movement (movement derived from natural sources), which became the basis of her technique. In Two Ecstatic Themes Humphrey poses the physical drama of rising versus sinking––the conquest of and the surrender to gravity. While promoting her company Humphrey wrote, “My dance comes from the people who had to subdue a continent, to make a thousand paths through forest and plain, to conquer mountains and eventually to raise up towns of steel and glass.”

Doris Humphrey's Works

Documentary Available for Viewing