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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:

Students were well-aware of how hard Ruth worked to broaden their educational horizons; when former students were asked, “What do you feel was Ruth’s most significant contribution to modern dance?”, one student responded, “Ruth was a pioneer in bringing Modern Dance as an art form to the Midwest… As her reputation for excellence in dance grew she was also instrumental in making modern dance a viable part of physical education curriculum” (Shepherd qtd. in Wittman 97). Even students sensed that momentous shifts were occurring in Omaha’s dance culture because of Ruth:

Ruth’s reputation gained ground as her dancers and performances were continually covered in the university newspaper, The Gateway, and in The Omaha World Herald. Davida Wittman, Ruth’s niece, remarks, “By far, the Omaha World Herald gave Ruth most of her publicity” (84). Of Omaha World Herald photographer, Eldon Langevin, “Ruth says that [he] was ahead of his time. He wanted only in-motion shots” (Wittman 84). The local newspaper publications were often reviews of concerts given at the Joslyn Memorial while The Gateway regularly published reviews, announcements of upcoming dance events, and brief interviews with dance students and with Ruth:

In a Gateway article titled “Diamond loves Girls’ Sports For ‘Fun Of It’ Only,” author Cecil De Long reports that Ruth “believes sport should be entered into for the ‘fun of it’ and for the exercise it provides” and that “the desire to participate in athletics to the extent of crowding out all feminine characteristics is strongly tabooed by Miss Diamond.” Thompson, however, notes that “[Ruth] encouraged any young woman who demonstrated talent in a given sport to perform to the best of her ability” (57). Ruth encouraged her students to challenge themselves not only in dance and sports, but in life, too.

 

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Part Eight Leaving UNO

In the midst of World War II, many of Ruth’s students and colleagues were leaving to enlist or volunteer for the war effort. At the age of 31, Ruth left UNO as well to answer her country’s call to service as a Red Cross overseas volunteer (Pollak and Valentine 45). She acted as Assistant Program Director at a Red Cross recreation club in Bournemouth, England, greeting and welcoming soldiers upon their arrival and supervising recreational activities (Mooney). To learn more about Ruth’s service as a Red Cross volunteer during WWII and the history of her G.I. Josephine outfit see the Nebraska State Historical Society article “G.I. Josephine”.

Although proud to serve her country, Ruth felt homesick during her time abroad and often wrote home to her students; her letters were frequently reprinted in the UNO Gateway feature titled The War and