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If you’re an American modern dancer, Ruth St. Denis is likely at the tip-top of your dance family tree. This dramatic, dancing master taught pretty much everyone who was anyone in the first half of the 20th century, including Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman.

Dance photographer Christopher Duggan referred to this gem of a photo of St. Denis at Jacob’s Pillow when creating his Then & Now series at the festival in 2012. He had always loved John Lindquist’s photo of St. Denis in a huge skirt against a clear blue sky. When he found out there was a similarly massive skirt featured in Jessica Lang’s performance that summer, he knew what he had to do:

Top Left: Ruth St. Denis by John Lindquist (© Harvard Theatre Collection); Top Right & Bottom: Jessica Lang dancer Kana Kimura in a dress by Elena Comendador by Christopher Duggan

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Written by Amy Jacobus

Amy Jacobus is a Brooklyn-based dancer and choreographer who has shown choreography at DanceNOW [NYC]‘s RAW series, Works in Progress at Dance New Amsterdam, Mixed Movement at Brooklyn Ballet and FIGMENT on Governor’s Island. She presented 20nothings, a danced response to bad press surrounding the Millennial generation, in a self-produced series at Greenpoint’s The End. Amy Jacobus Dance Projects was established in 2011 as a hub for her choreographic projects—past, present and future, in New York City and beyond. Amy has bachelors degrees in dance and journalism & mass communications from the University of Iowa and works as a marketing and communications consultant with a variety of performing artists, dance services and small businesses in New York. She is a former member of Dance/NYC Junior Committee. (photo by Christopher Duggan)