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  1. 1. The “La Meri” Collection San Antonio Theatre Archives Held at The San Antonio Public Library Texana/Genealogy Desk
  2. 2. “ La Meri” <ul><li>This Library Resource is only a sample of what can be found at the Texana Genealogy Desk. The vast collection explores Russell Meriwether Hughes’ life, accomplishments, and profound influence on the world of dance. We encourage you to research the collection on your own for a better understanding on this remarkable dancer, choreographer, teacher, and poet. Finding Aid </li></ul>
  3. 3. “ La Meri”: Biography <ul><li>Russell Meriwether Hughes, born on May 13, 1899 in Louisville, Kentucky. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1910 she moved with her family to San Antonio and in 1924 made her professional stage debut dancing prologues to silent movies at the Rialto Theatre. </li></ul><ul><li>She assumed the stage name La Meri. She moved to New York City played the “subway circuit” with the dance company of Maria Montero, and was a featured performer in Keith Times’ vaudeville act and in Shubert’s “A Night in Spain.” </li></ul><ul><li>The peak of her career was from the late 1920s through the early 1940s when she received widespread acclaim during worldwide international tours traveling to Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, India and the Far East. </li></ul>
  4. 4. “ La Meri”: Biography <ul><li>In 1940 she established the School of Natya with Ruth St. Denis in New York City where she taught and performed with her company the Five Natyas and presented noted guest speakers. </li></ul><ul><li>She also taught and lectured at Columbia University, Connecticut College, New York University and the Juilliard School of Music. </li></ul><ul><li>She was a distinguished poet and author of several articles on dance as well as textbooks on dance techniques. </li></ul><ul><li>Her text “Spanish Dancing,” published in 1969 is generally considered to be the definitive work on the subject. </li></ul>
  5. 5. “ La Meri”: Biography <ul><li>She retired to Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1970 where she established Ethnic Dance Arts, Inc. which produced annual Ethnic Dance Festivals each summer. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1972 she was awarded the prestigious Capezio Dance Award and in 1973 was given an honorary citation by Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe recognizing her for artistic achievement. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1984 she moved back to San Antonio where she died four years later at the age of 89 on January 7, 1988. </li></ul>
  6. 6. “ La Meri” in San Antonio Lilian and “La Meri” at San Pedro Park Birthday party for “Dickie” at house on Laurel St. Mulhollands High School for Girls Graduation, May 1913
  7. 7. La Meri’s First Automobile, 202 King Williams Street, 1913
  8. 8. Lillian Hughes Newcomer: “La Meri’s” Sister
  9. 9. La Meri: Chronology of Appearances 1931-1946
  10. 10. Jacob’s Pillow Production <ul><li>La Meri (1899-1988) studied and performed all over the world. She made her New York debut in 1928 and first danced at Jacob's Pillow in 1940. </li></ul><ul><li>La Meri was also a major cornerstone of the Pillow's faculty for decades, and she served as a member of the Board of Directors. </li></ul><ul><li>While she presented the dances of many cultures, she specialized in Spanish and Indian forms. </li></ul><ul><li>A particularly memorable offering was her interpretation of Swan Lake using Hindu gesture technique. </li></ul>La Meri as Hamsa-Rani in her production of Swan Lake Photo: Marcus Blechman, 1944
  11. 11. <ul><li>Swan Lake Performance at Jacob's Pillow </li></ul>
  12. 12. “ Song of Songs” L to R: Peter di Falco, La Meri, Ted Shawn- Photographer: Jack Mitchel at Jacob’s Pillow, 1946
  13. 13. La Meri
  14. 14. La Meri, Javanese costume Photo: Marcus Blechman
  15. 15. “ The White Peacock” (Griffes) Paris, 1930
  16. 16. Debut in Bharata Natyam (Choreog. Vadivelu Pillai) Madras, 1937
  17. 17. “ Nasu to Kabocha” (Choreog. Kodera) Photo: Marcus Blechman, 1945
  18. 18. “ Huayno” (Peru) Photo: Marcus Blechman, N.Y., 1949
  19. 19. La Meri and Peter di Falco “Sevellanos”- Dec 1946
  20. 20. “ Escape” Photographer: Jack Mitchell, Jacob’s Pillow 1960
  21. 21. “ Carabali” (Cuba), Photographer Rosel, New York, 1944
  22. 22. “ Zandunga” (Mexico), Photographer: Rosel, New York, 1944
  23. 23. “ Farruca” (Flamenco) Photographer: Marcus Blechman, New York, 1944
  24. 24. “ Marwari Kathak” Photographer: Rosel, 1944
  25. 25. In a Prologue in San Antonio, 1922
  26. 26. La Meri in “El Gato” Photographer: Rosel, 1944
  27. 27. ‘ Krishna-Gopala” (Choreog. La Meri) E. D. C. Theater N.Y.C., 1940
  28. 28. La Meri- Ruth St Denis at “School of Natya” Studio,1940
  29. 29. “ Parvati” in “Pradakchina of Ganesh” Her Last Performance, Photographer: Craig, Cape Cod 1969
  30. 30. La Meri at her home in Cape Cod with her champion Belgian Sheepdogs
  31. 31. Program: A Summer Festival of Ethnic Dance- MA,1971
  32. 32. Anecdotes: <ul><li>The London press said that La Meri is “not one woman but twenty!” It was with this same impression in mind that a certain lady said , after a concert, “Madame La Meri, I wonder that the authorities don’t arrest her husband for bigamy!” </li></ul>
  33. 33. Anecdotes: <ul><li>La Meri’s first press interview took place when she was four years old. She was sitting in the lobby of a big hotel waiting for her Daddy when an idle reporter saw her, all blue ribbons and curls. He asked her name and nothing could have been more solemn than her gracious bow and reply of “Russell Meriwether Hughes.” Such a big name for such a little girl amused the newspaper man and he gave her an interview then and there, which came out in the next morning’s edition—much to the surprise of the young lady’s parents! </li></ul>
  34. 34. Anecdotes: <ul><li>At La Meri’s debut concert in London, several distinguished personalities were invited by the local management. Among them was the sister of the late John Galsworthy, herself a writer and enthusiastic follower of the arts. At the end the concert and the inevitable “reception” back-stage, a distinguished, white-haired lady was found rapping obstinately on the window of the closed box-office. When an attendant asked what she wanted, explaining that the box-office was closed for the night, the great Galsworthy’s sister said, “But you must open it at once, for I want to pay for my ticket. No one has any right to see anything as beautiful as this concert without paying for it!” </li></ul>
  35. 35. Books by “La Meri”: <ul><li>Dance Out the Answer : An Autobiography / La Meri (Russell Meriwether Hughes) ; Foreword by John Martin. SAPL Catalog </li></ul><ul><li>Total Education in Ethnic Dance / La Meri (Russell Meriwether Hughes) ; Foreword by Walter Terry. SAPL Catalog </li></ul><ul><li>Spanish Dancing, by La Meri SAPL Catalog </li></ul><ul><li>Dance as an Art-Form; Its History and Development, by La Meri SAPL Catalog </li></ul>
  36. 36. The “La Meri” Collection <ul><li>The collection consist of correspondence, printed materials, photographs and photo albums, scrapbooks and audio tapes chronicling the career of La Meri from her early childhood in the early 1900s through her retirement in the 1980s. Many of the materials in the collection are undated. Printed materials include programs, brochures and reviews of performances, articles about La Meri, and articles and books written by her. Also included in the collection are materials from her sister, Lillian Hughes Newcomer. </li></ul>
  37. 37. For more information on the “La Meri” Collection, please visit the Texana/Genealogy Desk at the San Antonio Central Library. Texana and Genealogy (210) 207-2500