Interview with Gertrude Shurr, June 13 and 30, 1978

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Interview with Gertrude Shurr, June 13 and 30, 1978
Shurr, Gertrude (Interviewee)
Bowers, Theresa (Interviewer)

Dance Oral History Project

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1978-06-13
Date Created: 1978-06-30
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZT 5-697 (former)
St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968
Graham, Martha
O'Donnell, May, 1906-2004
Weidman, Charles
Humphrey, Doris, 1895-1958
Shurr, Gertrude -- Interviews
Denishawn School of Dancing
Primitive mysteries (Choreographic work : Graham)
Primitive mysteries (Choreographic work : Graham)
Dance teachers
Oral histories
Venue: Interview with Gertrude Shurr conducted by Theresa Bowers on June 13 and 30, 1978, in New York City for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division Oral History Project.
Bibliographic history: Title supplied by cataloger.
Source characteristics: Sound quality is good. There is extraneous noise including "tape hiss" and occasional short gaps, but the speakers' voices are easily intelligible.
Venue: Recorded for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts June 13 and 30, 1978 New York (N.Y.)
Funding: The conservation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Physical Description
Audiotape reel
Extent: 2 audiotape reels (approximately 2 hr., 34 min.) : polyester; half-track; 1.875 ips.; 5 in.
Streaming file 1, June 13, 1978 (approximately one hour and 35 minutes). Gertrude Shurr speaks with Theresa Bowers about her family background and childhood; taking classes and working at Denishawn [Denishawn School of Dancing]; Ruth St. Denis as an artist and as a person; briefly, Charles Weidman; her immediate attraction to Martha Graham's style of dance; Shurr's defection from Doris Humphrey to Graham; teaching and performing for Denishawn while in college; more on Weidman; Humphrey's and Weidman's break with Denishawn; Shurr's teaching at Denishawn while taking class with Graham; Graham's developing of Graham technique in her classes; working with Humphrey and Weidman including Humphrey's and Weidman's (and Graham's) differing approaches to music; teaching Graham's work; Graham's dance Primitive mysteries including the premiere; Graham's dancers then and now; Graham's work American document; leaving Graham and opening a studio with May O'Donnell in San Francisco; the summer program at Bennington College, in particular her teaching Graham technique. Streaming file 2, June 30, 1978 (approximately one hour and 37 minutes). [Following an introductory statement, the recording is blank for approximately 1:50 minutes.] Gertrude Shurr speaks with Theresa Bowers about opening a dance studio in San Francisco with May O'Donnell;Graham's enormous influence; May O'Donnell as a choreographer and as a dancer; Shurr's decision to stop performing; José Limón; rebuilding her relationship with Graham; teaching Graham technique to Erick Hawkins; completing her undergraduate degree, at San Francisco State College, and getting her Masters [of Science] degree at the University of Oregon; returning to New York and opening a studio; Mary Wigman and the German school of dance; Hanya Holm; more on Graham's working methods and working with Graham; Louis Horst; reconstructing Primitive mysteries; more on her various collaborations with May O'Donnell; some of their students including Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey; her pride and satisfaction in her teaching; her thoughts on Graham and her company today including her admiration for Linda Hodes; her life since retiring from the High School for the Performing Arts and moving to the Southwest, in particular her continuing dance-related activities; her thoughts about current trends in dance.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 79735456
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118544
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): dd829f80-b30c-0133-975b-3c07547a230f
Rights Statement
The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.

Item timeline of events

  • 1978: Created (Approximate)
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Gertrude Shurr" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1978 - 1978.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Gertrude Shurr" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1978 - 1978). Interview with Gertrude Shurr Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Gertrude Shurr, (1978 - 1978)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=April 17, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Gertrude Shurr