Interpretive Dance Study

Interpretive Dance Study

This study of a young woman performing Interpretive Dancing is believed to feature a student from the former Brantwood Hall School for Girls in Bronxville, New York. In 1928, the photographer Carroll M. Guest had a photograph showing similarly attired students grouped around a circular pool at the school published in the Pictorial Supplement of The Bronxville Review newspaper on June 16th under the caption “Brantwood Hall Scenes”. (p. 30) 


Known as the Brantwood School or Brantwood Hall School, the private girls school was founded in 1904 and removed to Bronxville in 1906 upon the invitation of Arthur W. Lawrence, serving students in pre-school through high school. An article in the August 26, 1948 issue of the Bronxville Review-Press stated classes began in September, 1906 in the old Alexander Masterton residence at 8 Woodland Ave, and was the longest lived of several private schools founded for Bronxville families before the local public school system was developed.


Loosely defined, so called  “Interpretive Dancing” is a modern dance form in which the dancer’s movements depict an emotion or tell a story. Often practiced by women at the high school and college levels as part of their physical education curriculum in the late teens and 1920’s, newspaper accounts (greater New York City area) show it was taught privately to children as young as three years old, with advertisements and performances continuing through the 1940’s although it seems to have been more popular in the 20’s and 1930’s.


The following excerpt appeared in 1919:  “Interpretive Dancing at Wisconsin” from: The Lyre of Alpha Chi Omega: published by George Banta: Menasha, WI: July, 1919: p. 276:


The dancing is based on fundamental movements. The instinctive movements of running, jumping, skipping, and leaping are combined in a variety of ways depending upon the rhythm of the music and the time values of the notes. Pitch is also studied and worked out by the pupils. The work begins with relaxation, then goes on to crawls on the floor, and to spiral movements in the horizontal position. The object is to gain power in the use of all muscles, that is, to find oneself. Then the same movements are worked out in the upright position, and much is left to the individual’s own interpretation. The results are surprising.

The work was first started in an ordinary gymnasium. The normal students, those majoring in physical education, wear brown costumes, short and sleeveless, and sandals. The college girls wear costumes of delicate shades of blue, pink, and green. 



Commercial photographer Carroll M. Guest: 1893-1945


Originally born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Carroll M. Guest moved to Bronxville, a village in Westchester County New York by 1910, setting himself up as a photographer specializing in home portraiture. (1.) By 1916, Guest’s published work appears in the form of theatrical photographs in The Bronxville Review newspaper. A 1917 advertisement in that publication describes him as a “Photographer and Artist” : Photographs of Quality-Taken at Your Home- Will gladly call and submit samples”. By 1925, his pictorial photographs of gardens and estates, as well as local landmarks (Tower of Dutch Reformed Church, Roosevelt High School- among others) were reproduced in the pages of the Review’s Pictorial Supplement as well as the paper itself, often full-page. Formal wedding portraits by Guest also appear around this time in those pages. Three years before the photographer’s death, The Bronxville Review-Press noted in its’ March 26th issue he was a winner in a contest sponsored by the Westchester Camera Club: “Carroll M. Guest of Mount Vernon won first award in the advanced group with a sepia portrait of a dog.”


Print Notes verso: In graphite in unknown hand along upper margin: Photograph by Carroll M. Guest  Mount Vernon, N.Y.  $45

1. November 12, 1927 advertisement for Guest in The Bronxville Review: “Carroll M. Guest: Home Portraits : No. 17 Tecumseh Avenue, Mount Vernon, N.Y. Oakwood 0640:  For seventeen years hundreds of satisfied patrons in Bronxville and vicinity have expressed their appreciation by generous patronage.

Interpretive Dance Study

Image Dimensions22.3 x 17.5 cm

Support Dimensionsunmounted