Part Six The Men’s Modern Dance Group

After breaking tremendous ground in Omaha with her advanced women’s dance group, Orchesis, Ruth continued her pioneering in the field of modern dance and disrupted traditional gender roles with her establishment of the first men’s dance course and group at UNO in September of 1939 (75). Community response to the men’s group was widely varied; many resisted the idea of men engaging in an activity that was traditionally associated with femininity and worried that modern dance had gone too far (75). Ruth, supported by faculty men and women, persisted in her efforts, and thirteen male students signed up for the first course: “They danced in bathing trunks and wore no shoes. And they received full physical education credit, as they would have done for any other sport” (75).

The men’s dance group gave performances alongside Orchesis, bringing even more acclaim to the Physical Education Program at UNO. In the 1940 yearbook, the newly established Men’s Modern Dance Group was given a two-page spread:


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Part Seven Appreciation of Dance as an Artform

Ruth had tremendous success in spreading the appreciation of dance as an art form and introducing interpretive modern dance to UNO, Omaha, and the larger Midwest community. In addition to her passionate teachings and performances, Ruth further grew the appreciation of dance as an art form by bringing renowned dance companies and troupes to Omaha such as Martha Graham in 1935 and the Humphrey-Weidman Company in 1938 (60). Such performances were the talk of the campus, as evidenced by the front-page announcement in The Gateway for the Humphrey-Weidman performance: