Bennington School of the Dance

Permanent URI for this community

"The first center for the study of modern dance in American drew hundreds of dance students and teachers in nine summers (1934-42) at Bennington College, Vermont. Founded by Martha Hill, Mary Josephine Shelly, and Robert Devore Leigh, the Bennington School of the Dance became a haven for most of the leading modern dancers, a laboratory for choreographers, a production center, and festival attracting audiences and critics to new work, and an arena for experiments in which music, drama, design, and poetry collaborated in the service of dance. The "Big Four" of modern dance - Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Hanya Holm, and Charles Weidman - were core faculty. Forty-two dance were premiered at Bennington. Among the community were Merce Cunningham, Anna Sokolow, José Limón, Alwin Nikolais, Anna Halprin, Erick Hawkins, and Bessie Schönberg - all named as America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures. Many of the dances were charged with the concerns of the time - the threat to liberty, the rise of fascism, the search for meaning in the American past, and the goal of harmony in human relations. Bennington was a rallying point for a vital, new American art." from America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100 presented by the Dance Heritage Coalition.