Angna Enters was a dancer and mime, a painter and writer. She developed nearly 300 separate characters for her touring Theater of Angna Enters from 1928-1960. She was a well-known artist and sculptor. Enters designed and executed all the costumes and props for her performances, and she illustrated several of the books she wrote on her life and work. She died in 1989.
The Angna Enters papers span the years 1920-1973 and consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, music, clippings and artwork. The collection is important in its documentation of the development of a new dance form titled dance-mime. Enters created over 300 characters in her Theater of Angna Enters. She was a prolific author, writing five books, several scripts for radio, theater and motion pictures, numerous articles for magazines and newspapers and translated with her husband, Louis Kalonyme, Rostrand’s Chantecler. Enters was also an artist; painting, sketching and sculpting. Much of her work was incorporated into her dance-mime (costume and set designs) and her writings (illustrations in her books). Some of her work was shown and sold at galleries throughout the United States and Europe.
The collection includes extensive personal journals and notebooks that chronicle her thoughts and reflections of every aspect of the world around her. The subjects are wide-ranging, from political and economic, to romantic and familial. Also included are thoughts about her work, including characters and story ideas.
Biographical/historical: Angna Enters was born Anita Enters, April 18, 1897 to Edward W. Enters and Henriette Gasseur-Styleau, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1924, she changed her name to Angna and began using 1907 as her birth year.
Enters graduated from North Division High School in Milwaukee, in 1915. That same year, she saw the first Denishawn concert tour, and in 1916, the first American tour of Diaghilev’s Les Ballets Russes. In June of 1916, Enters enrolled in Milwaukee State Normal School, a school that “intended to train teachers of drawing, design, and the manual art; to develop the appreciation and practice of the fine arts; and to create skilled workers in the applied arts.” Her special area was design, including commercial design, illustration, lettering and interior decoration.
Angna Enters registered for the Art Students League in October 1919. Taking a nightly illustration course, she worked in an advertising agency during the day. A friend from Milwaukee introduced her to Michio Ito. By the spring of 1920, she had abandoned the Art Students League, but continued working as a commercial artist and studying with Ito, a student of the Dalcroze-Eurythmics method.
In 1921 she met journalist Louis Kantor. The two were re-introduced in 1924 and began a secretive dating relationship, which led to a secret marriage in Spain in 1936. They kept separate living spaces and traveled separately in Europe. individual… “To create the illusion of a staff and to provide a disinterested persona between Enters and the world, she and Kalonyme invented a secretary to whom they gave her mother’s maiden name, Henriette Stylow. This device enabled Kalonyme to deal with Enters’ business correspondence when she was unavailable without revealing his presence in her affairs. “Henriette Stylow” was also used as an accommodation addressee for the constant exchange of letters between Enters and Kalonyme when either was out of the city…The reason why they never lived openly as a married couple in the United States may never be entirely clear…both Enters and Kalonyme had reputations of being extremely shy and reserved, and each had created a public persona to protect the private
Not until Kalonyme’s final illness in 1961, however, did he allow Enters to be recognized as his wife.
Kantor changed his name to Louis Kalonyme in 1924 and began writing critically about art for Arts and Decoration magazine. Kalonyme was friends with many independent thinkers of the day: Eugene O’Neill, George Bernard Shaw, and Georgia O’Keefe to name just a few. The couple did not have any children and Kalonyme died in 1961 after a long illness.
In 1924 Enters produced her first solo performance. From 1924 until 1939, she toured both the United States and Europe with her program, The Theater of Angna Enters. “She was probably the first, and certainly one of the very few, of her generation of American dancers to make a career exclusively on the concert stage.” After 1939 her constant touring schedule subsided, but she continued to perform through the 1960s.
Enters was a prolific artist. Many of her sketches and paintings were exhibited in the United States and Europe, sometimes the exhibitions coordinated with the weeks of her performances. Her sketches were often costume designs for characters of her mime performances, as well as set designs for plays.
Enters authored many books, including her fictionalized autobiography series: First Person Plural(1937), Silly Girl; A portrait of personal remembrance (1944), and An Artists Life (1958). In 1939 she co-authored with Louis Kalonyme a play: Love Possessed Juana(1939). Houghton Mifflin rejected Enters’ original title for her fourth book, A Thing of Beauty, when the company decided not to publish for fear of the story being banned. Coward McCann published the book intact under the new title, Among the Daughters: a novel in 1955. On Mime (1966) was about her method, practice and teaching of mime. The New York Times review put it this way, “a spontaneous, highly individual and persuasive reflection of her art and artistry.” All five books included illustrations from Enters’ sketches and paintings.
Enters teaching career began as an instructor at the Stella Adler School beginning in 1957 and ending in 1960. After her husband’s death in 1961, she accepted an invitation to be an artist-in-residence at the Dallas Theatre Center. While there she taught classes on mime at Baylor University. The following school year, 1962-1963, Enters taught at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. The material from these courses was compiled to create her book On Mime. She was again an artist-in-residence during the 1970-71 school year at the University of Pennsylvania. Her last know public performance was given there.
From 1976 until her death in February 1989, Angna Enters had lived in several nursing homes in the New York metropolitan area.