Winged Dancer by Delight Weston

Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Winged Dancer on Stage, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed

A female dancer wearing a bird-like costume outfitted with wings performs on stage, most likely in New York City. The dancer may have been affiliated with the Ruth Doing School of Rhythmics. Doing was a former dancer and student of Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) who had founded a dance camp along with business and life partner Gail Gardner in the Adirondack Mountains of New York in 1916, and was an active teacher of dance “Rhythmics” at the camp and in the city at least through the early 1930’s.

Another more intriguing possibility exists however as to the identity of the dancer here, with this archive holding six different examples taken by Delight Weston in 1927. 

To wit, an argument can be made, based on the time period for boundary-breaking inventiveness in the dance medium as well as this artist’s stature, facial features and hair, that she is none other than pioneering modern American dancer Martha Graham. (1894-1991) One study in particular held by this archive: “Dancer with Long Robe”, bears a striking resemblance to a similar garment worn by Graham as part of her dance “A Study in Lacquer”. This was featured along with others as part of the premiere of the Martha Graham Company in New York in April, 1926. See Richard Burke’s photograph in the magazine The Dance from August, 1926. Of course, this website is happy to amend this theory if further evidence is produced.

Photographer Delight Weston lived with dance school founder Ruth Doing (1881-1966) at the time this photograph was taken, and Doing is known to have had a professional relationship with Martha Graham in the dance community near the Carnegie Hall neighborhood in lending out studio space to her. In the 2005 volume: Bessie Schönberg : Pioneer Dance Educator and Choreographic Mentor, by Cynthia Nazzaro Noble, we learn that in 1929, a very young “Schönberg attended her first dance class with Martha Graham at Ruth Doing’s studio near Carnegie Hall.” (p. 40) Quoted from PhotoSeed

Delight Weston :: Dancing Wings in the Shadows, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Dancing Wings in the Shadows, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Dancing Wings in the Shadows, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed
Delight Weston :: Dancing Wings in the Shadows, 1927. Palladium print. | src Photoseed

“Wings” worn and held aloft by a female dancer spread out and contrast with their resulting shadow on the curtain backdrop during a performance on stage, most likely in New York City.

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