World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Helen Tamiris

Article Id: WHEBN0000705707
Reproduction Date:

Title: Helen Tamiris  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jazz dance, Lucinda Childs, Daniel Nagrin, Rosina Galli (dancer)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Helen Tamiris

Helen Tamiris
Born (1905-04-24)April 24, 1905
New York City, New York, USA
Died August 4, 1966(1966-08-04) (aged 61)
New York City, New York, USA
Occupation Choreographer, dancer

Helen Tamiris (April 24, 1905 – August 4, 1966), originally named Helen Becker, was an American choreographer, modern dancer, and teacher.


Salut au Monde (1936) was an original dance drama by Helen Tamiris for the Federal Dance Theatre, a division of the Federal Theatre Project

Tamiris was born in New York City on April 23, 1902. She was a choreographer known for American themed works. Tamiris originally trained in ballet and musical theater/comedy. She spent time studying free movement at the Henry Street Settlement. She danced for three seasons with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and the Bracale Opera Company before studying briefly with Michel Fokine and with a disciple of Isadora Duncan. In 1927, she made her premiere as a solo modern dancer and two years later formed her own school and company. Not only was she concerned with establishing modern dance as a viable art form, she also wanted to bring dance to a wider audience.

Tamiris was married to modern dancer and choreographer Daniel Nagrin who wrote the book How to Dance Forever: Surviving Against the Odds. Tamiris and Nagrin directed the Tamiris-Nagrin Dance Company.

Much of her known works deal with social issues like racism and war. She is best known for her suite of dances called Negro Spirituals which was created between 1928 and 1942. She choreographed eight Negro Spirituals. Theses Negro Spirituals protested against prejudice and discrimination against African American in America. How Long Brethren? (1937) was danced to Negro protest songs. This was a production of the Federal Dance Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that explored the problems facing African-Americans (which was the first time that federal funds were utilized in a creation of American dance). Other dancers and choreographers who took part in the Federal Dance Project was Katherine Dunham, Doris Humphrey, Ruth Page, and Charles Weidman. How Long Brethren? won Dance Magazine's first award for group choreography.

Tamiris was active in organizing the young artists through the Concert Dancers League, Dance Repertory Theatre, with contributions from Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman, Dancers Emergency Association, and American Dance Association. She also played an integral role in establishing the Federal Dance Project under the WPA. Later, she became the director of the Federal Theatre Project under WPA. During the depression she assisted many dancers with finding work and career opportunities.

Helen Tamiris was Jewish and she choreographed some pieces with themes that reflected her heritage in this regard, such as Memoir (1959) and Womans Song (1960).

Tamiris was also known for her contribution to musical theatre. During a period when jobs opportunities for dancers started to decrease, a number of ballet and modern dance choreographers, including Tamiris, began to work in musical theatre, musical comedies, and films. Tamiris was among the choreographers who won awards for their musical theatre choreographer. Tamiris won a (Tony) Antoinette Perry Award for best choreography in Touch and Go (1949). Her other musical theatre choreography includes Adelante (1939), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Up in Central Park (1947), Flahooley (1951), Carnival in Flanders (1953), Fanny (1954), and Plain and Fancy (1955).

Tamiris believed that each dance must create its own expressive means and as such did not develop an individual style or technique. She was one of the first choreographers to use jazz and spiritual music to explore social themes via dance. Tamiris also made works based on American themes working in concert dance (including Walt Whitman Suite and Salut au Monde).

See also


External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.