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Shawn, Ted (MS 520)

Finding Aid | Digital Images and Documents

Ted Shawn was born Edwin Myers Shawn on October 21, 1891 in Kansas City, Missouri. After a battle with Diphtheria at the age of 19, he took up dance as a form of Physical Therapy. In 1914 he met Ruth St. Denis, married her, and together they started the Denishawn Dance Company and School. Many of today’s modern dancers can trace their roots to this company. Shawn and St. Denis separated and dissolved the Denishawn Company in 1930. That very same year, Shawn purchased a farm in the Berkshires called Jacob’s Pillow. Eventually this farm becomes the site for Schools of Dance and for the Jacob’s Pillow Dance festival (incorporated in 1942). From 1932 to 1933 Ted Shawn taught at Springfield College, then known as the International YMCA College. Through experiments conducted in his teaching, Ted Shawn formed the Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers dance company. This was the first all-male dance company in the United States. They toured throughout the United States, Canada, and England before disbanding in 1940. The Ted Shawn Papers collection contains materials and information on the life of Ted Shawn, Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, Jacob’s Pillow and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festivals, various Dance Schools created by Ted Shawn and Jacob’s Pillow (including the University of the Dance created in conjunction with Springfield College), and the connection between Ted Shawn and Springfield. Materials include newspaper and magazine articles; photographs of Ted Shawn and of dancers at Jacob’s Pillow; brochures and programs from various shows, festivals, and schools; promotional materials such as flyers and special bulletins; labanotation and sheet music from various dances created and choreographed by Ted Shawn; letters and writings by Ted Shawn; and Correspondence between Springfield College, Ted Shawn, and Jacob’s Pillow.