The story of this groundbreaking summer dance program is told through the voices of staff, faculty, and students. Administrative director Mary Josephine Shelly’s previously unpublished writings form a key summary of eight of the nine summer sessions. The Bennington School of the Dance held classes from 1934 through 1942 at Bennington College in Vermont, with one summer spent at Mills College in California. Its effects were far-reaching in the development and dissemination of modern dance as an original American art form.
The school produced unique choreographic works by teachers in residence: Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman. Leading choreographers of the later 20th century such as Merce Cunningham, Anna Halprin, José Limón, Alwin Nikolais and Anna Sokolow participated at the school. The largest portion of students were high school and college level teachers who would spread modern dance across the country and abroad.