Research Catalog

Sophia Delza papers

Sophia Delza papers, 1908-1996.
Delza, Sophia.
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Box 1Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 1Offsite
Box 2Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 2Offsite
Box 3Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 3Offsite
Box 4Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 4Offsite
Box 5Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 5Offsite
Box 6Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 6Offsite
Box 7Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 7Offsite
Box 8Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 8Offsite
Box 9Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 9Offsite
Box 10Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 10Offsite
Box 11Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 11Offsite
Box 12Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 12Offsite
Box 13Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 13Offsite
Box 14Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 14Offsite
Box 15Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 15Offsite
Box 16Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 16Offsite
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Box 19Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 19Offsite
Box 20Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 155 Box 20Offsite


Additional Authors
  • Delza, Sophia.
  • Delza, Elizabeth.
  • Eisenberg, Jack Gerald.
  • Glassgold, C. Adolph.
  • Hurwitz, Leo T., 1909-
  • Ma, Yueliang.
  • Snow, Edgar, 1905-1972.
  • Snow, Lois Wheeler.
  • Zee, Wen.
  • Chelsea Hotel.
39.33 linear feet (95 boxes)
The Sophia Delza Papers document the rich and varied career of this unique American dancer, writer, and tai chi teacher.
  • Correspondence.
  • Photographs.
  • Preparatory drawings.
  • Programs.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Scripts (documents)
  • Scores.
Biography (note)
  • American dancer, writer, and teacher of tai chi, Sophia Delza (1903-1996) had an exceptionally long and varied career.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 155
Delza, Sophia.
Sophia Delza papers, 1908-1996.
American dancer, writer, and teacher of tai chi, Sophia Delza (1903-1996) had an exceptionally long and varied career. Delza already had achieved prominence as an independent modern dance performer and choreographer by the mid-1940s, but after 1951 she embarked on a second career as an authority on tai chi and Chinese classical theater. Born Sophie Hurwitz, Delza grew up in Brooklyn, as a part of a large, extended family. Among her siblings were the future documentary filmmaker, Leo Hurwitz, and a sister, Elizabeth Delza (who also had a significant career in modern dance), who became Sophia's first dance teacher. Although Sophia studied science and anthropology at Hunter College and received her degree in 1924, she eventually decided to pursue a career in dance. She went to Europe, spending the majority of her time in Paris, where she studied character and folk dance forms, as well as composition at the Dalcroze School. After returning to the United States, Delza toured with the Doris Niles Company and she appeared in the 1928 edition of the Grand Street Follies with James Cagney as her dancing partner. Delza gave her first, well-received solo recital at New York's Guild Theatre in 1930, which was followed by subsequent seasons. She also performed Spanish dance from the late 1920s to the late 1930s and received a grant to study folk dance forms in Mexico. By the early 1940s, Delza had developed her zdance-monologuey format and was creating complete scripts for her modern dance programs, which often incorporated spoken word.
Sophia Delza's entire career would undergo a major shift, however, as a result of her accompanying her husband, Cook Glassgold, on a diplomatic posting to Shanghai (1948-1951). While in China, Delza became the first American dancer to teach modern dance technique. She also gave several concerts and lectures during her nearly four-year stay. Perhaps more importantly, during her residency abroad, Sophia was introduced to the ancient Chinese exercise form, t'ai chi ch'uan and studied with Ma Yueh-liang, a master practitioner of the Wu style. She also studied action dance roles in the classical Chinese theater. Upon her return to the United States, Delza began to present classical Chinese dance routines, usually in a lecture demonstration format. She gave numerous classes, lectures, and demonstrations on Chinese theater forms in New York and toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Concurrently, Delza became more involved with tai chi, giving what she believed to have been its first demonstration in the United States at the Museum of Modern Art in 1954. Thereafter, Delza became an important tai chi instructor and tireless advocate of the exercise art, opening her own studio in Carnegie Hall, teaching regular classes at the United Nations and the Actors Studio, as well as maintaining affiliations with several universities in the metropolitan New York area, and undertaking occasional residencies at institutions across the country. She also wrote extensively on the subject, publishing numerous articles, a record album, and three books on tai chi over the course of thirty-five years. Her final book, The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience was published shortly before her death in 1996.
Sophia Delza shared an apartment at the Chelsea Hotel with her husband, Cook Glassgold (1899-1985) from the time of the couple's return from China in 1951 through 1985; she would remain at the Chelsea until the time of her own death. Glassgold enjoyed a career that was equally varied as that of his wife. Born in New York, Glassgold taught art at City College during the 1920s and in 1932 he became curator of painting at the Whitney Museum. From 1936 through 1941 he was an editor of the Index of American Art for the Works Progress Administration. He worked for the Federal Public Housing Administration during World War II. He later joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in 1945 and was responsible for directing a camp for displaced persons in Landsberg, Germany. In 1948 he took a position in Shanghai with the American Joint Distribution Committee again helping relocate refugees. After returning to New York, Glassgold became the director of the Hotel Trades Council union, a position he held from 1953 until his retirement in 1975. Following his retirement, he volunteered at the American Museum of Natural History, where he worked on restoring a Chinese marriage chair. In his later years, Glassgold also returned to easel painting, enjoying several well-received one-person shows of his paintings in the years immediately preceding his death.
Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
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Finding Aid
Dance teachers.
Added Author
Delza, Sophia. T'ai-chi ch'uan experience.
Delza, Elizabeth.
Eisenberg, Jack Gerald. Memories for the future.
Glassgold, C. Adolph. Martyrs.
Hurwitz, Leo T., 1909-
Ma, Yueliang.
Snow, Edgar, 1905-1972.
Snow, Lois Wheeler.
Zee, Wen.
Chelsea Hotel.
Research Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 155
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