Monday, March 28, 2016
Remembering Tamiris, Part 4: A dance production to re-elect Roosevelt
(Helen Tamiris in the early 1950s. Photo from the New York City Public Library Dance Collection, used here for historical, educational, and non-commercial purposes.)
In 1944, several years after her days as a WPA choreographer, Helen Tamiris and her husband Daniel Nagrin created a dance production that was "part of a revue entitled The People's Bandwagon, put together for appearances in movie theatres for the purpose of reelecting Franklin D. Roosevelt..." The People's Bandwagon appeared in 25 cities. Tamiris later said, "The exciting thing about this tour was the knowledge that the dance could be part of something as important as helping to elect a president. We not only did some of our own concert dances but appeared in especially created material on the election." Other people appearing in the tour included folk singer Woody Guthrie and actor Will Geer (later famous for portraying "Grandpa" on the The Waltons) (Christena L. Schlundt, Tamiris: A Chronicle of Her Dance Career, 1927-1955, 1972, pp. 62 and 67).
It was around this same time period that Tamiris's Broadway career was beginning to take off. Between 1943 and 1957, "she choreographed 18 musical comedies, fourteen of which had runs on Broadway, six of which were long runs..." (see previous note, p. 68). In 1950 she won a Tony Award for Best Choreography for the production Touch and Go.