Charles Weidman (1901-1975) was a dancer, choreographer, and teacher known for his roles as a member of the Denishawn Company, and later for founding his own companies: the Humphrey-Weidman Concert Company, Theatre Dance Company, and An Expression of Two Arts. The additions to the Charles Weidman papers contain material related to choreographed works he performed with the Theatre Dance Company and An Expression of Two Arts; files representing his time with the Denishawn Dancers; photographs; and scrapbooks.
2.18 linear feet and 6 boxes
Charles Weidman papers, Additions, (S) *MGZMD 320. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library.
Scope and Content:
The additions to the Charles Weidman papers contain material related to choreographed works he performed with his two companies, Theatre Dance Company and An Expression of Two Arts; files representing his time with the Denishawn Dancers; photographs; and scrapbooks. The papers document his childhood in Lincoln, N.E., including his interest in dance from a young age, and his later work choreographing and performing in the 1960s and early 1970s. Material from the Humphrey-Weidman Concert Company is occasionally present if a work from that era was revisited by one of his later companies.
Files regarding choreographed works make up the bulk of the collection and primarily represent works performed in New York City and in Berkeley from 1961 to 1975. The files all contain choreographic notes and many contain costume designs, lighting cues, photographs, programs, and scores. Files for And Daddy Was a Fireman, A House Divided, and Jacob's Wedding contain typescript narratives written by Weidman that informed, or perhaps were part of, the work. The file on New Dance contains a statement from Doris Humphrey from 1936, when the work was first performed, and the file on Fables and Further Fables contains material from the original mounting of Fables for Our Times.
Weidman often wrote his choreographic notes on the back of press releases, programs, and form letters from his companies, repurposing these documents as scrap paper. There is one file titled Singers and Actors Charts that consists of news clippings, photographs, and prints that portray various expressions and movements of athletes, actors, and dancers.
The Denishawn Dancers files are arranged in chronological order, from 1920 to 1929, and contain news clippings, programs, and photographs depicting Weidman's time with the company.
Photographs date from 1894 to 1925 and consist of studio portraits of Weidman as a child and his family members, including many pictures of his father as a young man. There is one photograph of Weidman as an adult. Also present is a signed photograph of a Japanese dancer named Takio dated 1925 and a note regarding his role as God of the Mountain in the play Mamijigari.
There are two scrapbooks in the collection. One scrapbook, from 1902 to 1922, documents Weidman's childhood and early career in dance. It is composed of photographs of Weidman as a young child with his sister, and studio portraits of his mother and his aunt, Jessie Hoffman; programs from and news clippings about his early dance performances in Lincoln; publicity photographs of people he admired including Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, and Ted Shawn; and personal material such as his confirmation certificate, report cards from middle school, news clippings regarding his family's social activities from the local paper, sketches, and a small amount of correspondence. The second scrapbook dates from 1901 to 1914 and consists of news clippings documenting his father's career as fire chief of Lincoln and his later work in Panama.
Biographical / Historical:
Charles Weidman (1901-1975) was a dancer, choreographer, and teacher known for his roles as a member of the Denishawn Company, and later for founding his own companies: the Humphrey-Weidman Concert Company, Theatre Dance Company, and An Expression of Two Arts. Weidman was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1901, the son of Charles Weidman Sr., and Vesta Hoffman. He spent part of his childhood in Panama, where his father served as head of the fire departments during construction of the Panama Canal. Weidman studied dance as a child and performed in recitals and pageants in Lincoln before moving to Los Angeles in 1920 to study at the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts. A year later, he was dancing with the Denishawn Dancers, the company founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. He toured with the company for eight years and was a soloist in Danse Americaine (1923) and The Crapshooter (1924).
Weidman left the Denishawn company in 1928 when he formed a company with Doris Humphrey, who had been his first teacher at the Denishawn School and a fellow dancer in the company. The Humphrey-Weidman Concert Company was based in New York City and produced major works such as On My Mother's Side (1940), Flickers (1942), and And Daddy Was a Fireman (1943). Weidman was known for being gifted at mime and being versatile with both dramatic and comic works. In 1947, soon after Humphrey's retirement from dance, he choreographed a series of works based on writings by James Thurber called Fables for Our Times.
In 1948, he formed the Theatre Dance Company. In the 1960s, Weidman developed an interest in the intersection between fine art and dance and founded An Expression of Two Arts with sculptor Mikhail Santaro. Throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s, Weidman continually performed with both companies and often revisited past works. He died in New York City in 1975.
Donated by Linda Mann Reed.
The collection was rehoused in boxes, and folders were replaced if original folders were deteriorated. One scrapbook (1902-1922) was disassembled and each page encapsulated in mylar. Some of the material in this collection had been fastened together by straight pins and researchers should use care when handling.
The collection is arranged alphabetically by subject, format, or title.
Charles Weidman papers. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library.
Charles Weidman School of Modern Dance, Inc. records. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library.