Special Collections and Archive
Guide to the Marian van Tuyl Papers, 1928-1987
Finding aid prepared by Karma Pippin
2002 F.W. Olin Library, Mills College. All rights reserved.
Access Restrictions: Open for use by qualified researchers
Publication Rights: Contact the Special Collections Curator, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College, for copyright information and permission to publish.
Preferred Citation: [item], Marian van Tuyl Papers, 1928-1987, Special Collections, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College
Marian van Tuyl was born in Wascousta, Michigan on October 16, 1907. By the time she died in 1987 in San Francisco, she had had distinguished careers as dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, editor and publisher, teacher, dance educator, and administrator. She was a tireless promoter of modern dance through numerous professional organizations.
Even as a child, van Tuyl wanted to one day be a dancer, but even more to be a teacher of dance, and at the age of eight she began her teaching career by helping with children’s classes to earn lessons for herself. Throughout junior and senior high school she was choreographer for school performances. Van Tuyl received her Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Michigan in 1928. From 1928 to 1938 she taught dance at the University of Chicago, giving numerous master classes and directing campus musical productions including Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Handel’s Xerxes, Gluck’s Iphigenia in Taurus, Weinberger’s Schwanda, and several performances each year in the Rockefeller Chapel of the University.
Marian van Tuyl was to become a major force in the development of modern dance in the United States. She had studied dance in Detroit with a teacher who derived from Isadora Duncan and Dalcroze. Later, on leaves of absence from Chicago, she studied with Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, Paul Boepple (Dalcroze), Louis Horst, and Martha Hill. She was also a student of ballet during this ten-year period. Van Tuyl attended the first five summers at Bennington School of Dance, from 1934 through 1938, and in 1938 became one of the first Fellows in Choreography of the Bennington Dance Festival, the forerunner of the American Dance Festival. She also spent a summer session teaching at Indiana University and another at the University of Washington. Beginning in 1935 and while at the University of Chicago, she had a private studio in the city and a performing concert group, the Marian van Tuyl Dance Company, that toured the Midwest and would continue to perform until 1947.
Together with her student Eleanor Lauer, van Tuyl came to Mills College in 1938, where she was founder and director of the Dance Department. Mills and Bennington were the first institutions of higher education in the United States to offer a degree in Dance, and in 1939 van Tuyl established a parallel Summer School to that at Bennington. She successfully moved dance from physical education to the School of Fine Arts in 1942, and forged strong and lasting connections between the departments of dance, music and theater on the Mills campus. Among her collaborators were Mills composers Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell, and Lou Harrison, and, from Bennington, stage and scenic designer and Mills drama professor Arch Lauterer. She continued to tour during these years, mostly through the Northwest and Southwest. From 1947 to 1949 she collaborated with filmmaker Sidney Peterson, choreographing two experimental cinematic dance productions, Clinic of Stumble and Horror Dream (with original music by John Cage), in the Art in Cinema project of the San Francisco Museum of Art. Van Tuyl maintained a dance studio in San Francisco from 1943 to 1947. She was also to teach during the summers of 1965, 1966, and 1968 at Connecticut School of the Dance.
Van Tuyl took a leave of absence from Mills College from 1947-1950 to focus on her family, then went back until retiring in 1956, only to return in 1963 and retire permanently in 1970 after a professional teaching career of 42 years.
Marian van Tuyl also had an absorbing career as writer, editor and publisher, most notably as sole editor of the distinguished and innovative Impulse: Annual of Contemporary Dance (1950-1970) and as editor of two related works, Modern Dance Forms in Relation to the Other Modern Arts by Louis Horst and Carroll Russell (published by Impulse in 1961), and Anthology of Impulse, 1951-1966 (published by Dance Horizons in 1969). She was also editorial consultant for Dance Scope.
Van Tuyl had a strong commitment to the promotion of dance in the Bay Area and across the nation and was tirelessly active in dance associations from the 1960s to 1980s. She was founder of the Congress on Research in Dance and its newsletter, CORD News, which she edited from 1969-1971. She served on the California Arts Commission through the 1970s and compiled The California Dance Directory, 1972, sponsored by the Commission and the Association of American Dance Companies. She further participated as: Chairman of the Western Division, Association of American Dance Companies, 1971-1973; Adjudicator, First American College Dance Festival, Pittsburgh, 1973; President, American College Dance Festival, 1973-1975; Member, Performing Arts Advisory Panel for the California Arts Commission, 1974; Member, Dance Advisory Panel for the California Arts Commission, 1975; Member, Audition Panel for the San Francisco/Bay Area Dance Coalition, 1976; Member of the Board, California Association of Dance Companies, 1976-1981; Member, Advisory Committee to the San Francisco Arts Commission, 1977; and Advisor, American College Dance Festival, 1978-1987. She was also a member of the National Association for Regional Ballet, the American Dance Therapy Association, the Dance Notation Bureau, and an Advisory Board Member of the California Confederation of the Arts.
She was honored by The American Dance Guild (Life Member) in 1971, The Committee on Research in Dance in 1972, the National Dance Association, AAHPER (Heritage Award) in 1974, the Association of American Dance Companies, Western Division, in 1975, the California Dance Educators Association in 1980, and the San Francisco Bay Area Dance Coalition (Hall of Fame) in 1986.
Open to many dance traditions and genres, van Tuyl incorporated ballet and folk dance into her own work and filmed tribal dances in the New World: Tahitian, Eskimo, and Southwest Indian.
Marian van Tuyl’s collection of films and scores was donated by her children to the Library of Performing Arts Dance Collection, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, in 1988 in accordance with her wishes and plans.
Scope and Content:
The archive consists of eleven record groups: Record Group I: Albums and Outsize Photographs, 1928-1940; Record Group II: Photographs, 1929-1980s; Record Group III: Scores, 1936-1947 and undated; Record Group IV: Audio-Visual Material, mostly undated; Record Group V: Dance Events and Works, various dates ; Record Group VI: Papers and Speeches, 1930s-1970s; Record Group VII: Editorial Work: Impulse Publications, 1950-1970; Record Group VIII: Impulse: Annual of Contemporary Dance and Anthology of Impulse, 1956-1970 ; Record Group IX: Correspondence, various dates; Record Group X: Associations and Organizations, 1930s-1980s ; Record Group XI: Personal Miscellany, mostly undated.
Record Group Descriptions:
Record Group I: Albums and Outsize Photographs, 1928-1940
This record group consists of albums of news clippings, newsphotos, programs and publicity for Marian van Tuyl and for Marian van Tuyl and Group in Chicago, at Bennington, and on tours of the Western States, together with a few large photographs. Series 1. Scrapbooks and Publicity Books; Series 2. Outsize Photographs
Record Group II. Photographs, 1929-1980
This record group consists mostly of studio portraits and posed and action dance photographs arranged chronologically and by location and dance: Series 1: Summer Camp; Series 2. Chicago; Series 3. Bennington; Series 4. San Francisco Bay Area. Other dancers, including photographs for illustrating Impulse, are in Series 5.
Record Group III. Scores, 1936-1947 and undated
This record group consists of musical scores for dances and dance films choreographed by Marian van Tuyl. Series 1. Photocopies of musical scores arranged alphabetically by composer; Series 2. Choreography manuscripts and labanotation notes by Marian van Tuyl and others, arranged in that order.
Record Group IV. Audio-Visual Material, mostly undated
This record group consists mostly of recordings of Marian van Tuyl dances recorded at Mills College, Marian van Tuyl and Sidney Peterson dance film collaborations of 1947-1948, and Southwest Indian and Tahitian ceremonial dances and milieu. With statements by Marian van Tuyl on each work she choreographed. Series 1. Videos and films; Series 2. Sound recordings, reel-to-reel; Series 3. Audiotapes; Series 4. Slides
Record Group V. Dance, Rhythmics and Physical and Dance Education. Events and Works, various dates.
This record group consists of dance classes, festivals and symposia, programs, films, choreography, score lists, and conferences on dance, dance education and dance writing, arranged alphabetically by subject.
Record Group VI. Papers and Speeches, 1930s-1970s
This record group consists of published and unpublished articles, papers, interviews and speeches by Marian van Tuyl and others on dance, theories of physical motion, physical therapies, psychoanalysis and related subjects. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically by author; Series 2. Publications, arranged by category: dance journal articles, daily and monthly newspapers, newsletters and calendars, and similar material.
Record Group VII. Editorial Work, 1950-1970
This record group consists of the business papers for Impulse Publications, including its Articles of Incorporation, board minutes and correspondence, correspondence with contributors and with other dance publications, and permissions to publish, arranged alphabetically by category.
Record Group VIII: Impulse: Annual of Contemporary Dance and Anthology of Impulse, 1956-1970
This record group consists of some of the publications of Impulse. Series 1. Issues of Impulse: Annual of Contemporary Dance; Series 2: Anthology of Impulse: blue lines mounted on boards, and publicity for last issue of Impulse
Record Group IX. Correspondence, various dates
This record group consists of personal and professional correspondence on a wide variety of topics, arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Series 1. A-N; Series 2. O-Z; Series 3. Miscellaneous A-Z and address books
Record Group X. Associations and Organizations, ca 1930s-1980s.
This record group consists of material relating to Marian van Tuyl’s activities as a member of associations for dance and related organizations in the arts, and is in the form of correspondence, press releases, newsletters, brochures, programs and information sheets, arranged alphabetically by association. Series 1. American … to California Arts …; Series 2. California Association … to San Francisco …; Miscellaneous.
Record Group XI. Personal Miscellany, mostly undated
This record group consists of biographical information, family photographs, correspondence about Jin Shin Jyutsu therapy, tax matters, and obituaries.