Helen Tamiris


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(orig. Helen Becker; b New York, 24 Apr. 1905 (some sources 23 Apr. 1903); d New York, 4 Aug. 1966)

US dancer, choreographer, company director, and teacher. She studied with I. Lewinson, Fokine, and Galli and performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, as well as in nightclubs and revues. In 1927 she began to re-invent herself as a modern dance soloist, and during the next two years gave recitals in America and Europe, creating and performing 27 different dances. From 1930 onwards she began to choreograph for her own group, her work eloquently addressing social and political issues. Her works include Walt Whitman Suite (1934), Cycle of Unrest (1935), Salut au monde (1936, a study of the struggle for racial equality), and How Long, Brethren? (1937). Ironically, this last, which was based on African-American songs of protest, was performed by an all-white company of women. From 1945 to 1957 Tamaris worked on Broadway where she choreographed many musicals, including Up in Central Park (1945), Show Boat (1946), Annie, Get Your Gun (1946), Touch and Go (1949) for which she won a Tony Award, Fanny (1954), and Plain and Fancy (1955). With her husband Daniel Nagrin she directed the Tamiris-Nagrin Dance Company (1960–3). She also taught stage movement for actors for many years.

Subjects: Dance.

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