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Dance Heritage Coalition

Administrative Information Table of Contents Scope and Content Note

Dougherty (John) Collection, 1904-1988

- Biography


John Dougherty was born in 1910 in Pennsylvania. He was a scholarship student of the first resident class at Denishawn House, 1928-1929. He made his professional debut dancing with the company Ted Shawn took out in the spring of 1929, beginning with the week at Atlantic City, ending at Carnegie Hall where he danced as one of the silhouette figures in the world premiere of Shawn's Mevlevi Dervish. Dougherty entered the university of Pennsylvania in 1930 and received his B.A. degree in 1934, and his M.A. in 1938. Despite studying literature, Dougherty remained affiliated with dance throughout his life.

Dougherty was a staff correspondent in Southern California for Dance Magazine from 1956 until 1965. In 1960, he began lecturing on dance history at University of California at Los Angeles and served as a consultant and moderator for dance festivals and performances. Dougherty partnered with Ruth St. Denis in 1965 for her last company appearance, The Blue Madonna of St. Mark's. Dougherty also trained the dancers for the Ruth St. Denis performance at Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County sponsored by Atheneum Arts Foundation. John Dougherty was St. Denis' secretary and literary adviser during this last phase of her professional career. He wrote publicity for her, assisted with the operations of the Ruth St. Denis center, and worked to collect the writings of Ruth St. Denis for publication.

In 1966, Dougherty wrote the script, Denishawn Revisited, a retrospective of the Denishawn Era. In 1967, he trained dancers, and staged Denishawn Revisited at UCLA where he danced Ted Shawn's Invocation to the Thunderbird as the finale to the show. Dougherty also produced another retrospective of the Denishawn era, Denishawn Festival, at UCLA in the 1970s. From 1971 to 1976 he lectured at SSU Fullerton. Dougherty worked with Ted Shawn in 1969 to help catalog materials relating to Mr. Shawn's personal life and career, including his costumes and fabric collection. At this time Dougherty taped and transcribed interviews with Shawn, which were used by Walter Terry to write Shawn's biography. Dougherty wrote reviews of dance, and books for Dance News in the 1970s. He died in Los Angeles, California in 1988.

Administrative Information Table of Contents Scope and Content Note