Indian Dance that Bedazzled the West


The GK is working on a precious little story about Ruth St. Denis, the inspired, revolutionary dancer who enchanted the West with her Indian dances at the turn of the 20th century. It turns out that the dances were not Indian at all, but inspired by Ruth’s own reverence for Hindu religion and mysticism.

Eventually, she would boldly take her troupe to perform in India, to Maharajas and Ranis—but that is a story that you can read about in the magazine!

Her husband, the also legendary Ted Shawn, was inspired while in India to create one of his most famous performances: The Cosmic Dance of Shiva. Above, Shawn in Germany as Shiva. And below, Ruth St. Denis visits a Hindu temple in 1926.


The interesting part is, both Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn knew Gurudeva. Ruth even created choreographies for him. In a letter of recommendation dated December 16, 1944, she says of young Gurudeva, “He is a very good dancer—capable of lending his talent to any occasion.”


This is a short video of Ted Shawn dancing his interpetation of The Cosmic Dance of Shiva:

No Responses to “Indian Dance that Bedazzled the West”

  1. Nalini says:

    This quite Cosmic! Literally!
    Unbelievebly cool!

    Aum Namo Nataraja

  2. Wayne Reynolds says:

    Absolutely delightful!

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