Research Catalog

Interview with Gertrude Shurr

Interview with Gertrude Shurr [sound recording].
Shurr, Gertrude.

Items in the Library & Off-site

Filter by

2 Items

StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
part 1AudioSupervised use *MGZTL 4-2542 part 1Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance
part 2AudioSupervised use *MGZTL 4-2542 part 2Performing Arts Research Collections - Dance


Additional Authors
  • McDonagh, Don.
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
4 sound discs (ca. 94 min.) : digital, stereo; 4 3/4 in.
  • Part 1, disc 1 (ca. 31 min.). Gertrude Shurr speaks with Don McDonagh about Martha Graham, and the distance she created between herself and the dancers; Graham's ability to small talk, but never to speak personally with the dancers; the fact that Erick Hawkins brought out a deeper side to Graham; Louis Horst introducing Graham to music and art, especially European music and art; the fact that Horst would encourage Graham and other dancers to read books from Germany, France, etc. in order to broaden their cultural awareness; the first Graham company, and how it consisted of strong soloists; being introduced to museums; the pre-classic forms, and drawing inspiration from sculpture and paintings; Horst introducing American Indian artifacts to Graham; the experience of working on Primitive mysteries; anecdotes of working with Graham, especially focusing on Graham's human side; Graham's drive and ambition; Graham's interest in reading and learning, drawing inspiration from a variety of ideas, people, and movements; the relationship of music to dance, one that provided the catalyst for modern dance and modern music coupling; Graham's professional relationships with composers; Celebration, and the music scored by Horst; Graham's inability to teach Denishawn dances because of licensing issues; teaching for Denishawn while the company toured; her relationship with Ruth St. Denis and Charles Weidman; Graham's dancing abilities; meeting Graham while working for Denishawn; Graham's early students, and attending classes twice a week; leaving Denishawn with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, and then leaving those dancers to join Graham's company; Doris Humphrey's reaction to Shurr leaving to join Graham.
  • Part 1, disc 2 (ca. 31 min.). Gertrude Shurr continues to speak with Don McDonagh about Doris Humphrey; dancing for Graham for one year in order to prove her loyalty before being asked to join the company; dancing in Graham's early works, including Heretic and Primitive mysteries; the financial situation Graham and Louis Horst faced; learning dance techniques while at Denishawn; Graham's dance instincts; Charles Weidman's dance techniques; floor exercises at Graham's studio; the strength of Graham's dances involving back and pelvis movement, as well as breath techniques; her belief that Graham was a genius, and the central figure in modern dance through her discovery of body movement and presentation.
  • Part 2, disc 1 (ca. 31 min.). Gertrude Shurr speaks with Don McDonagh about the difference between early Graham dancers and those who came later; earlier dancers' attachment to Graham and the dances; her lack of understanding of how modern dancers shop around for teachers; rehearsals with the Graham company, and preparing for performances; attending all classes offered by Graham; her intense love and understanding of Graham's dances; her relationship with May O'Donnell, and O'Donnell's dance company in the 1970s, O'Donnell's reputation and the dance, Suspension; Jane Dudley's current work, and working in London; Robert Powell's connection to Graham; falling out of touch with Graham; Graham's fear that her dances, if performed on the surface without the original intent and emotion, would be caricatures of her, and her work; Graham's interest in reading; Erick Hawkins' introducing Graham to Greek tragedies.
  • Part 2, disc 2 (ca. 31 min). Gertrude Shurr speaks with Don McDonagh about Martha Graham's theatrics, and her influence on modern dance lighting and staging; Graham's costuming influences; the derivative aspects in Graham's work reveals the time spent with Ruth St. Denis; Ted Shawn's statement about Jewish dancers, and the effect that had on the Denishawn dancers; taking classes from Louis for 8 years; the first ten years dancing in Graham's company; the World Fair of 1938, and dancing in the preview there with music written by Ray Green; touring with the Graham company; an anecdote when Shurr picked an orange from Graham's mother's yard, and brought it to N.Y. from Calif.; visits made to N.Y. by Graham's mother; her belief that Graham did not understand how great the works were; Graham's ability to generate a light from within.
  • Interview with Gertrude Shurr conducted by Don McDonagh on Dec. 8, 1972.
  • Each disc ends abruptly.
  • Open as of August 22, 2012.
Funding (note)
  • Recording was preserved through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Source (note)
  • Don McDonagh;
Call Number
*MGZTL 4-2542
Shurr, Gertrude. Interviewee
Interview with Gertrude Shurr [sound recording].
Recording was preserved through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Local Note
Archive orig. : *MGZTCO 3-2542, nos. 1-2
Dubbing master : *MGZTD 4-2542, nos. 1-4
Gift; Don McDonagh; 2007
Added Author
McDonagh, Don. Interviewer
McDonagh, Don. Donor
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Research Call Number
*MGZTL 4-2542 sound disc
View in Legacy Catalog