Charles Weidman. Photo courtesy DM Archives

#TBT: Charles Weidman Had Some Thoughts on Why People Find Modern Dance "Dismal"

In the September 1964 issue of Dance Magazine, we spoke to choreographer Charles Weidman, who was in the midst of touring his witty, sensitive repertoire across the country. A deft hand with subjects both comic and serious, the then-63-year-old had a savvy sense for programming.


"I don't mean to say that we should present nothing but the fluff some ballet companies present," he told us. "Yet it seems to me that we moderns have a tendency to want to solve all the world's problems in every dance. No wonder some people say modern dance is dismal. We're always revolting against something or other—which, I suppose, may be to the good. But we should realize that each audience differs in its level of maturity, and plan programs accordingly. So few of us do, though. We enjoy being solemn."

Two dancers are clothed in identical dark, tight-fitting, long-sleeved unitards. The woman balances on one leg, her arms curving over her raised knee, and looks over her shoulder with an expression of alarm at the man. He returns her look with raised eyebrows as he stretches a pale, thin length of fabric that is wrapped around his throat with both hands. In the background, a large set piece that looks like an oversized wishbone is propped against a wall. Pauline Koner and Charles Weidman in her Amorous Adventure (1951) Robert L. Perry, Courtesy DM Archives

Alongside fellow Denishawn alum Doris Humphrey, with whom he had a joint company for nearly two decades, and Martha Graham, Weidman was considered one of the most influential modern dancemakers of his generation, encouraging his dancers to become choreographers and training the likes of José Limón and Bob Fosse.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
December 2020