The U.S. Postal Service paid tribute Saturday - on National Dance Day - to four influential choreographers who changed the art of dance in the U.S. and around the world: Isadora Duncan, Jose Limon, Katherine Dunham, and Bob Fosse.
The Innovative Choreographers stamps were dedicated at Los Angeles County's Grand Park, as part of the West coast's flagship National Dance Day Celebration, by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer and co-creator of "So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD), the FOX prime-time dance reality show, and Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
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"I want to thank the U.S. Postal Service for creating such beautiful stamps honoring these four legendary choreographers and for issuing them on National Dance Day," said Lythgoe.
"I hope these stamps serve not only to educate people about the art of dance and its history, but also to motivate them to dance themselves," Lythgoe added.
Designed to look like posters advertising a performance, the colorful stamps capture the art of the individual dance styles. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps using illustrations by James McMullan, widely known for his work for Lincoln Center Theater in New York City.
National Dance Day was originally conceived by Lythgoe and was acknowledged by Congress in 2010. It is a nationwide grassroots initiative designed to promote the joy and benefits of dance for everyone.
The Innovative Choreographers stamps are being issued as Forever stamps in self-adhesive sheets of 20 (5 of each design). Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce rate in effect at the time of mailing.
The Postal Service has paid tribute to the art of dance five previous times: American Dance (1978, Ballet, Theater, Folk, Modern); American Indian Dances (1996, Fancy Dance, Butterfly Dance, Traditional Dance, Raven Dance, Hoop Dance); Ballet (1998); American Choreographers (2004, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Agnes de Mille, George Balanchine); and Let's Dance (2005, Merengue, Salsa, Cha Cha, Mambo).
Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) Dancer, adventurer, revolutionary and ardent defender of the poetic spirit, Duncan has been one of the most enduring influences on contemporary culture. Virtually single-handedly, Duncan restored dance to a high place among the arts. Breaking with convention, she traced the art of dance back to its roots as a sacred art. Duncan is credited with inventing what later came to be known as Modern Dance. The image on the stamp reflects Duncan's interest in classical Greek dance.
Jose Limon (1908-1972) Jose Limon was born in Culiacan, Mexico. At age 7, he moved to the United States, where he later studied with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and danced with their company (1930-1940). He established his own company in 1947, with Humphrey as artistic director. The company toured worldwide during Limon's life and remained active after his death. On the stamp image, Limon is shown in a performance pose.
Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) Katherine Dunham became one of the first African-American women to attend the University of Chicago, where she earned a doctoral degree in anthropology. She was a pioneer in the use of folk and ethnic choreography and one of the founders of the anthropological dance movement. She is credited for bringing Caribbean and African influences to a European-dominated dance world. On the stamp image, Dunham is shown in a pose from her critically acclaimed ballet "L'Ag'Ya."
Bob Fosse (1927-1987) Bob Fosse was one of the 20th century's great choreographers. As an artist, Fosse was known for his thoroughly modern style, a signature one could never mistake for anyone else's. Snapping fingers are omnipresent, so are rakishly tilted bowler hats. Both hip and shoulder rolls appear frequently, as do backward exits. Swiveling hips and strutting predominate, as do white-gloved, single-handed gestures. The image on the stamp portrays Fosse on the set of "Sweet Charity."
The stamps can be purchased at www.usps.com/shop.
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