Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Remembering Tamiris, Part 6: Helen Tamiris, Walt Whitman, and the WPA

(A WPA poster promoting Tamiris's dance production of Salut au Monde. The poster was created by artist Richard Halls in 1936, and the dance production was based on Walt Whitman's poem of the same name. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

In the program for her WPA production of Salut au Monde, Helen Tamiris wrote:

"Salut au Monde, of all Whitman's poems, furnishes a prophetic insight into the problems of the American people and of the rest of mankind today. In it Whitman portrays Man the Individual, surrounded by nature and the environment created by his own efforts, struggling for his existence in the process of which he has created his crafts, his arts, his customs, his lands, his cities, his industries, his religions, his cultures and civilizations, his joys and sufferings - all that sustains man. And through all these innumerable forces and changes, he sees the divine right of the individual, regardless or race, sex, religion, country, social position, material wealth, or individual differences.

'Each of us inevitable,
Each of us limitless--each of us with his or her right upon the earth,
Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth,
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.'

--Walt Whitman, 1881"    

Salut au Monde played from July 23, 1936 to August 5, 1936. It played at various locations, for example, the Henry Street Settlement on July 23 (New York Times, July 19, 1936) and the McMillin Academic Theatre at Columbia University on August 5 (New York Times, August 2, 1936).

(Tamiris's quote above is from: Christena L. Schlundt, Tamiris: A Chronicle of Her Dance Career, 1927-1955, New York Public Library, 1972, p. 51)   


  1. I really love your blog, Brent! Thank-You!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate that. --Brent

  2. Helen Tamiris was my great aunt. I just discovered your blog and am enjoying learning new things about the history of her choreography. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Joy. If you go to the search box in the far upper left hand corner of my blog, and type in "Tamiris," you can find all of my blog posts about her. I also wrote a one-page biography on her, which you can find here:

      I find her to be a very inspiring person. I wish I had a time machine and could go back in time and meet her.