Marilyn Klaus

Following studies in classical ballet, tap, and hula in Los Angeles as a child, Marilyn Klaus was introduced to the legacy of Isadora Duncan by her high-school dance teacher, Ruth Beames. Beames brought Klaus, then a student at the Athenian School in Northern California, to the Temple of the Wings in Berkeley, where Sülgwynn Quitzow and her family lived and ran a dance program. Established by Florence Treadwell Boynton, Sülgwynn’s mother and a close childhood friend of Duncan, the Temple offered training based on Duncan’s expressive style and theories of movement.

Upon relocating to New York City, Klaus pursued opportunities to perform and choreograph as a freelance artist. Some years after her arrival, she reconnected with Beames and was encouraged to contact Sylvia Gold. Through Gold, Klaus met her Duncan mentor, Hortense Kooluris, whom she assisted in the planning and execution of workshops and performances at institutions such as the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, the New York Society for Ethical Culture, the Downtown Dance Festival and the Rudolf Steiner School (in Great Barrington, Massachusetts).

In partnership with journalist Stephanie Woodard, Klaus created a film about Kooluris, which was completed upon Kooluris’s passing. It premiered during a memorial service that Klaus collaborated with Jeanne Bresciani to organize at St. Mark’s Church. For her part in the celebratory event, Klaus received the Isadora Duncan International Institute’s Hortense Kooluris Award.

As a performer, instructor and choreographer, Klaus has found many opportunities to preserve and proliferate the Duncan tradition. In her early years as a teacher, Klaus set pieces learned from Beames and the Quitzows on undergraduates at Brooklyn College. Children from Klaus’s own studio would later present these dances at the annual Isadora Duncan Birthday Celebration, organized by Catherine Gallant, in Central Park. Klaus and her pupils also joined Judith Landon and the Duncan Dance Continuum in performances of Duncan classics at Lake Placid Center for the Performing Arts, Theater of the Riverside Church, St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, and Wainwright House (the oldest non-profit, non-sectarian holistic learning center in the United States).

As for her own work, Klaus created one piece in particular that drew on her experiences with Beames and the Quitzows. Titled "Return to Normalcy" (alternately known as "Champagne"), this suite of three dances is a significant part of the repertory of Ballets with a Twist, Klaus’s Manhattan-based professional dance company.


Ballets with a Twist


Collection Title Date
Catherine Gallant and Dances by Isadora YouTube channel Duncan Dance Continuum performs Chopin's Berceuse 1993
Beth Jucovy and Dance Visions NY YouTube Collection Tribute to Isadora Duncan, Hortense Kooluris and Dancers at the World Trade Center 09/14/1987