Celebrate the release of a new book, Dance We Must: The Art and Costumes of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn 1906-1940, with a reception, brief dance performance, and panel discussion moderated by Sandra Burton, Lipp Family Director of Dance and Senior Lecturer in Dance at Williams, and featuring Kevin Murphy and Caroline Hamilton, co-curators of the exhibition and co-editors of the book, and book contributors Erica Dankmeyer, Artist-in-Residence in Dance at Williams, and Munjulika R. Tarah, Assistant Professor of Dance at Williams.
This book serves to document a collaborative exhibition, Dance We Must: Treasures from Jacob’s Pillow, 1906-1940, organized by staff from WCMA and Jacob’s Pillow and installed at WCMA in 2018. The exhibition focused on the material culture created by and for Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn and pioneering modern dancer Ruth St. Denis. Many of the objects featured in the show had not been examined for decades and were being fully cataloged for the first time.
As the exhibition curators worked on the checklist, it became apparent that the materials they were finding surfaced legacies of colonialism, cultural appropriation, and racism in dance, art, and American history. This book expands on themes of the exhibition and presents perspectives of Williams faculty and students who taught with, danced alongside, and at times critiqued aspects of the materials’ presentation at WCMA.