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Eleanor King Collection

Finding Aid (Click link to open document)

"Eleanor King struck out from the Humphrey-Weidman Company in 1935 to concentrate on her own choreography. Teaching led her to professor emeritus status in 1971 when she retired from 19 years work at the University of Arkansas. But she never stood still, in mind or body—teaching here, choreographing there, studying mime with Etienne Decroux when she was nearly 50, tackling Noh in Kyoto at 54, tai chi two years later, at 70 beginning the study of classical Korean dance in Seoul, making and performing her 'East–West dances,' and turning out a wonderful autobiography, Transformations.

In 1987, the audience at a symposium dealing with Leonide Massine's 1930 Le Sacre du Printemps was stupefied when King, a frail and beautiful 81-year-old, burst from her panelist's chair, and started running through the very strenuous choreography. In 1988, we rejoiced over a retrospective program—of fine King solos reconstructed by dancer Andrea Seidel (who had learned and performed them), King herself, and Annabelle Garrison for Gamson's company of soloists. This February, she was in Oak Park, Illinois, for a tribute concert and another King reconstruction, when she had a heart attack, fell, and broke her hip. A friend who visited her in the hospital found her mastering a walker, calling out gaily, 'C'est la guerre!' Given her lifetime habit of hatching new plans, death didn't find her waiting passively."

— Deborah Jowitt (used with permission, reprinted From The Village Voice: Dance, March 13–19, 1991)



  • Erasmus Hall High School, Brooklyn, New York 1924

  • Clare Tree Major School of the Theatre 1925

  • Theatre Guild School (scholarship) 1926

  • Professional Dance training, and soloist with the Doris Humphrey-Charles Weidman Modern Dance Company, New York 1927–1935

  • Mime with Etienne Descroux, Paris 1955

  • Classical Nihon Buyo, Fujima Fujiko, Tokyo 1958, 1960

  • Classical Nihon Buyo, Yoshimara Hanayagi, Kyoto 1960–1961



  • Assistant to Doris Humphrey, Dalton School, New York 1930–1931

  • Assistant to Doris Humphrey, New School for Social Research, New York 1932–1933

  • Perry-Mansfield Theatre Dance Camp, Steamboat Springs, Colorado 1936, 1945, 1956

  • Theatre Dance Company, New York 1938–1940

  • Brooklyn Museum of Art 1937

  • Dance Instructor, Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota 1942–1943

  • Director of Dance, Cornish School of Arts, Seattle 1943–1944

  • Director Eleanor King Creative Dance Studio, Seattle 1944–1951

  • Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas 1952

  • Rotterdam Dansschool Academie, Rotterdam, Holland 1952, 1954, 1955, 1961

  • American Cultural Centers, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka 1958,1960,1967

  • Associate Professor, University of Arkansas 1960

  • Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas 1971

  • Rencontres Internationales de Danse Contemporaines, Paris 1973

  • Toynbee Hall, London 1954–1955

  • Goldsmith College, London University 1978

  • College of Santa Fe 1979



  • Transformations, a memoir by Eleanor King, the Humphrey-Weidman era. Brooklyn, New York: Dance Horizons.1978. (Illustrated, 324 pages.)

  • "Indian dance in the northwest," Dance Observer 12 (December). 1945.

  • "Dance in the northwest." Music and dance in California and the West. 1947.

  • "Dance gains in the northwest," Christian science monitor (May 9). 1949.

  • "East meets West in the dance." Northwest times weekly (January). Seattle. 1950.

  • "The laughter lingers, Rakugoka Story Teller's Theatre." Japan Quarterly 8 (July–September). (Brush/ink illustrations). 1951.

  • "Dance an answer to the times" (Dutch translation). Vernieuing, Rotterdam, Holland. 1955.

  • "Modern dance in the arena theatre." Dance Magazine 24(September). 1950.

  • "Another way," Journal of health, physical education and recreation (December). 1962.

  • "Magic of masks." Dance magazine 37 (August).1963.

  • "The influence of Doris Humphrey." Focus on Dance 5, composition. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. 1969.

  • "Kagura, the search," Excerpt from Ch. I, The Way of Japanese Dance. Dance Research Monograph One. New York: CORD (Committee on Research in Dance). 1971–1972.

     "Sumiyoshi Rice Planting Festival," excerpt from Ch. 8, The way of Japanese dance. CORD news 3(2). New York: Committee on Research in Dance. 1971.

  • "Reflections on Korean dances." Korea Journal 17. Seoul. 1977.

  • "Shamanism." Arirang Magazine 14(2). Seoul. 1977.

  • "Reflections on Korean Dances," Arirang Magazine 17(3). Seoul. 1978

  • "Transcendent dance," Korea Journal 19(9). Seoul. (Brush/ink illustrations.) 1979.

  • "Kagura," Ch. I from The way of Japanese dance, mime, mask and marionette, Quarterly journal of performing arts 2(2). New York: Marcel Dekker. (Brush/ink illustrations.) 1979–1980.

  • "The holy-unholy shamans." Korean Culture 4(4). 1983.

  • "Dionysus in Seoul: notes from the field on a shaman ritual in Korea," Dance as cultural heritage 1. Betty True Jones (editor), Dance research annual 14, New York: Congress on Research in Dance. 1983.

  • "Bugaku: the dance two thousand years young," Ch. 2 from The way of Japanese dance. mime mask and marionette, Quarterly journal of performing arts 2(2-3). New York: Marcel Dekker. (Brush/ink illustrations.) 1980.



  • John Martin, America dancing, and The book of the dance

  • Margaret Lloyd, The Borzoi book of modern dance (half a chapter)

  • Chujoy-Manchester, The dance encyclopedia

  • Donald MacDonagh, Complete guide to modern dance

  • Thomas Leabhart, Eleanor King: forty Years of creative dance, 1927–1967. Master's Thesis, University of Arkansas.


Grants & Awards

  • Jane Cowl Romeo and Juliet Essay Contest gold medal 1923

  • Bennington School of the Dance, Fellowship, 1938

  • Off-Campus duty assignment to study traditional dance and drama, Japan 1960-1966

  • Fulbright Research grant, dance and drama, Japan 1967

  • Fulbright Research grant, dance and drama, Korea 1976, renewal 1977

  • Vogelstein Foundation travel grant 1976-1977 for Japan and Bali

  • Independent study, Sri Lanka, Burma, 1977

  • Independent study Greece, 1955, 1973, 1980

  • American Association of Dance Companies, honoree, 1975

  • Santa Fe Dance Umbrella, dedication, 1980


Conferences & Lectures

  • American National Theatre Association, paper on Rhythm, 1952

  • American National Theatre Association, workshop demonstration: Experimental Approach to Movement. 1966

  • Asia-Pacific Dance Conference, Hawaii, sponsored by CORD and American Dance Guild: paper on Dionysus in Seoul, performance of Salutation, a Meditation on the East (Hovhanes), 1978

  • Lecture-demonstration: Toward New Noh, illustrated with slides, with performance of masked solo "Hagoromo," and film of Arthur Little's "St. Francis" (first Noh play in English based on rhythmic structure of Japanese Noh); Universities of Maine, Florida, Earlham, Pomona, Radcliffe, St. John's, USC, and other colleges

  • Lecture-demonstration: Dionysus in Seoul, (Korean Shaman Dance) with performance of "Sal Puri": Performing Arts Theatre, Lincoln Center, and Korean Cultural Service, New York; Amsterdam Drama School, Holland; UC Davis, Berkeley; London University; Pomona, St. John's College, and for Royal Asiatic Society, Fulbright Forum, American Center, in Seoul, Korea

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