A former director of the José Limón Dance Company and a primary disciple of Doris Humphrey, died on October 4, 2011 at the age of 85.
I had toured as the Technical Director/ Lighting Supervisor for the company for Jennifer Tipton while Ruth Currier was the artistic director of the company. In my opinion she was a wonderful lady and it was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to know and work with her. She knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask for it from me or her dancers. I’ve had the privilege to see her dance in archival films with the original Limon company while we were on tour. The only references I can find to Ruth in the New York City Public Library, Jerome Robbins Dance Division are taped interviews. Pity as she danced beautifully, the films do live in some college somewhere.
Ruth Currier was born in Ohio as Ruth Miller, she was raised in Durham, North Carolina and attended Black Mountain College where she studied piano with Fritz Cohen and danced with Elsa Kahl. She moved to New York to continue her piano studies and study dance with Doris Humphrey and José Limón. She joined Limón’s company in 1949, and soon began appearing in leading roles and participating in the creation of new works. Her first new dance was Humphrey’s Invention, a trio in which she appeared with Limón and Betty Jones.
Ruth Currier was a prominent performer with Limón for nearly two decades, creating roles in some of his most important and enduring works, such as There is a Time and Missa Brevis. She also created roles in Humphrey classics such as Night Spell and Ruins and Visions.
Currier became increasingly involved in the creation of Humphrey’s works, officially serving as creative assistant throughout the final decade of Humphrey’s life. Humphrey had sketched out her final work, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, but only managed to complete the first movement before her death in 1958, asking Currier to complete the choreography. It was my pleasure and honor to light the first performance of this dance for the company. Currier’s choreographic apprenticeship coincided with her own growing reputation as a dancemaker, having made an auspicious debut with a 1955 duet, The Antagonists, in which she appeared with Betty Jones. She would go on to create more than fifty works, including Quartet and Toccanta for the Limón Company and the Ruth Currier Dance Company, which she formed in 1958.The Limón Company survives the founders death, Jose, with the help of Ruth Currier…
After five years as artist-in-residence at Ohio State, she returned to New York to direct the Limón Company, having been invited by the dancers to lead them after Limón’s death in 1972. Her five years as director helped make the case that the Limón Company could continue, in itself a formidable achievement at a time when conventional wisdom held that a modern dance company could not survive its founder. A 1975 New York Times article dubbed her “something of a miracle worker”. One of Ruth Currier’s notable achievements as a director of the Limón Company was broadening the repertory well beyond the scope of Limón and Humphrey works. One particularly ambitious acquisition in 1977 was Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table – a work with special personal significance since its composer, Fritz Cohen, had been Currier’s piano teacher at Black Mountain College more than thirty years earlier.
Currier resigned from the directorship of the Limón Company in 1978, devoting her efforts for the next twenty years to teaching at the Ruth Currier Dance Studio and at the Limón Institute. Teaching had long been a central focus, with assignments over the years at Julliard, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, and residencies throughout the world.
Ruth Currier defined the principles of Humphrey and Limón, and established a formal base for using the principles to teach contemporary technique. See her Bio and tribute to Ruth’s teachings on adriaan kas web page.