Ella Rosewood Dance
Choreography, performance, and education based in Brooklyn, NY.

The Call/Breath of Fire

The Call/Breath of Fire (1930)
Choreographed by Doris Humphrey

Image from "The Call/Breath of Fire" (1930) choreographed by Doris Humphrey.

 
 

The Call/Breath of Fire (1930)
Choreography by Doris Humphrey
Staged and Directed by Gail Corbin
Danced by Ella Rosewood
Music by Dane Rudhyar: Summons from the First Pentagram
Costume by Elena Comendador after the original costume design by Pauline Lawrence
Restaged with permission of the Doris Humphrey Foundation for Dance

"The dissonant power of Rudhyar's music fitly expresses the call to a new vision, which is followed by a shriving of the old body and old ideas through purification of fire." -Doris Humphrey, 1930


Doris Humphrey (1895-1958) was born in Oak Park, IL, on October 17, 1895. She was a pioneer in American Modern Dance and an innovator in technique, choreography and theory of dance movement.

In 1917, after graduating from high school and teaching dance in Chicago, she joined the Denishawn Dance School and Company in Los Angeles. She taught in the school and soon became a leading soloist in the company and by 1920 began experimenting with her own choreography.

In 1927, Humphrey left Densishawn and founded her own studio and performing group in New York with former Denishawn dancer and partner, Charles Weidman. Some of the works she created for the Humphrey-Weidman group were the solo dances Two Ecstatic Themes, The Call and Breath of Fire, and the ensemble works Air for the G String, Water Study, The Shakers, New Dance, Passacaglia and Fugue and With My Red Fires. Doris Humphrey began to develop her own technique; "Fall and Recovery" was the term she used for giving in to and resisting the pull of gravity, an equalization between balance and imbalance, between suspended action and reaction – the "Arc between two deaths.”

Doris Humphrey retired from performing in 1944 due to an arthritic hip but continued teaching and was also the artistic director for her student and former Humphrey-Weidman member José Limón and his company of dancers. As artistic director of the Limón Company, she choreographed such works as Lament of Ignacio Sanchez Mejias and Day on Earth. Humphrey was both an influential choreographer and teacher. Her book The Art of Making Dances, published posthumously in 1959, is considered a masterwork in dance literature.


Gail Corbin is a leading exponent in the technique and repertory of Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. Her longtime association with Ernestine Stodelle, an original member of the Humphrey/Weidman Company, began with Ernestine’s reconstructions of Two Ecstatic Themes and Air for the G String for the Jose Limon Company in 1977. Gail assisted her in these Humphrey reconstructions and served as a model for the solo roles. She has continued to teach and perform these works along with other reconstructions such as The Call and Breath of Fire, Quasi Waltz, The Shakers and Water Study. Because Ms. Corbin took part in these reconstructions and assisted Ms. Stodelle in the rebirth of these movements, she possesses a rich and vast knowledge of the works and a deep understanding of the technique.  Under the direction of Beatrice Seckler, also an original member of the Humphrey/Weidman group and Deborah Carr, who worked with Charles, Gail learned many Weidman dances and was a featured dancer/soloist in The Deborah Carr Theatre Dance Ensemble. Some of the other former Humphrey/Weidman company members Gail has studied or worked with are Nona Schurman and Peter Hamilton. Gail has taught and directed Humphrey technique and repertory as Master Teacher and Guest Artist all over the U.S. and in Europe and Australia. Ms. Corbin is a graduate of the Hartford Conservatory of Music.