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Ruth St. Denis East Indian Nautch Dance [1944]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0079
Run Time
0h 3m 50s
Format
16mm
Color
Color
Sound
Silent
Date Produced
1944
Abstract
Ruth St. Denis, a pioneer of modern dance, created choreography that was often inspired by traditional indigenous dances from Asia.  One famous example of these works is her "East Indian Nautch Dance," shown here.  Music for the dance was composed by Charles Wakefield Cadman.

This film represents a brief performance of St. Denis's "street nautch" (as opposed to the "white nautch"), filmed in August 1944.
Description
The film opens with a medium shot of St. Denis seated, with arms posed and eyes closed.  She wears a great deal of jewelry, makeup, and an 'exotic' costume of many fabrics.  She then performs intricate hand choreography and removes a shawl from her head.  Then, the camera pulls back to a long shot as she stands up and begins a hip-swaying dance and more intricate hand choreography.  This is followed by a section involving turns and spins.  

Next, St. Denis begins speaking to someone offscreen, perhaps an assistant in charge of lighting or the filmmaker. Afterwards, she repeats some of the same choreography from beforehand.  After some final spins, St. Denis seats herself on the ground and the camera cuts to a medium close-up of her.  She performs final hand movements and completes the dance with her hands together and eyes closed, as if in thanks.  The film ends here.
Additional Credits
St. Denis, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
St. Denis, Ruth (is performer)
Genre
Dance
Subject
Dance