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Emerson Wortis, Ruth
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- Emerson, Ruth
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16 Mar. 1938 - 13 Sep. 2015
Ruth Emerson (Wortis) was a dancer, choreographer, dance educator, and a pioneer of postmodern dance. She was born in Palo Alto, California on March 16, 1938.
Ruth had her first exposure to dance under the inspiring mentorship of Mim Rosen at University High School in Urbana, Illinois. She was an undergraduate at Radcliffe College, where she spent all her spare time dancing and studied summers at the American Dance Festival in New London, Conneticut with Louis Horst and José Limon. She graduated from Radcliffe in 1958 with a BA in Mathematics. After college, she supported herself by writing school math texts while taking dance classes at the Martha Graham School, the Merce Cunningham Studio, and the Robert Joffrey School of Ballet in New York and performing with the Dancemakers in Boston. In New York she danced with the Pearl Lang Company. She was a founding member in 1962 of the Judson Dance Theatre, pioneers of the formal, minimalist movement style now known as Postmodern Dance.
In 1964, she married theoretical physicist, Michael Wortis, moving first to Berkeley, California, where she danced with Ann Halprin and then to Paris, France, where she performed and choreographed at the Theatre d’Essai de la Dance. From 1968 to 1973, she held a part-time faculty position in the Dance Department at the University of Illinois. She completed an MA in Dance at the University in 1973 under Margaret Erlanger and Jan Stockman Simonds. She founded a dance company, Somedancers, Inc., which performed in Champaign/Urbana from 1974 to 1978. From 1981 to 1987, she taught dance and choreographed musicals at University High School; during this time, she also held a residency at the Radcliffe Institute from 1986-1987.
In the fall of 1987, Ruth, Michael and their two daughters moved to Vancouver, B.C.. She helped to develop the first Provincial Dance Curriculum for B.C. schools under the Provincial Ministry of Education. As a Sessional Instructor at the Centre for the Arts and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Education at Simon Fraser University, she developed and taught a program for student teachers. She also continued to perform and to choreograph locally, offering dance courses at local community centres. She served nationally on the grant selection committee of the Canada Council, Dance Section.
Ruth passed away on September 13, 2015.
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Entry created 03 August, 2017. JMH
Biographical notes were composed by Melanie Hardbattle based on information provided by the donor.