Dancer and Educator
Carol Lynn's career spanned half a century. She was associate director along with Ted Shawn of Jacob's Pillow University of Dance and Dance Festival from 1943 to 1960. It was during those years that she recorded over 100,000 feet of tape of live performances on the stage at the Pillow. The complete collection resides in The Dance Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division..
In Baltimore she served as chairperson of the Peabody Conservatory's dance department for nearly 25 years, retiring in 1970. In 1976 The Maryland Council for Dance gave its 2nd annual award to Miss Lynn for "outstanding contributions to the dance in Maryland."
Beginning at age 8 she joined a folk dancing class at her elementary school as this was before the days of wide-spread ballet instruction in the United States. Her mother took her to the opera and theater and after seeing someone on point it was just ballet for her.
Miss Lynn's ballet mistress was Madame Elisabetta Menzeli. After Miss Lynn moved with her mother to Baltimore in 1920 and began teaching ballet, Madame Menzeli, recently retired, came and stayed with them, and gave Miss Lynn private ballet lessons to keep her technique sharp, at 5 in the morning.
As a professional dancer she toured with a small company that performed in vaudeville, as it was not until the 1930s that the United States became ballet conscious with the advent of Colonel de Basil and his Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo performing all over the United States.
Beginning in the summer of 1922 Miss Lynn trained in the Denishawn School in New York to learn their method, and for several summers following studied with Fokine, Mordkin and others.
At this period, during the winters, she taught at her own school in Baltimore, and she and her advanced students danced annually at the Lyric Theater for almost 10 years, and later at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
It was Carol Lynn who persuaded Ted Shawn in the mid-1930s to arrange a course for women at Jacob's Pillow, which he insisted she manage alone. Ted Shawn was busy with his troupe of men dancers that he had formed in 1932. During her tenure at the Pillow she had charge of school activities and filmed the many artists performing, as well as "Les Sylphides" as performed by Ballet Theater; "Giselle" and "Coppelia" by Ballet Rambert.
The photograph above is from the Mary Campbell Collection, Texas Woman's University, and is used with permission. L. to R. Joseph Pilates; unknown subject; unknown subject; Carol Lynn; Mary Campbell; unknown subject; and Jeanette Schlottman on the ground in the Tea Garden at Jacob's Pillow. Sign reads "Welcome to Jacob's Pillow, International Dance Festival and School."
Here are some of the artists she filmed listed in alphabetical order by first name: Alexandra Danilova, Alicia Alonso, Alicia Markova, André Eglevsky, Anita Dencks, Anna Istomina, Barton Mumaw, Betty Jones, Billy Ross, Birgit Akesson, Bruce King, Carolyn Brown, David Adams, Diana Adams, Edward Villella, Emily Frankel, Erik Bruhn, Frederic Franklin, Glen Tetley, Hugh Laing, Jocelyn Vollmar, Jacqueline Dodge, John Butler, John Kriza, José Limón, Joseph E. Marks III, Kelly Brown, La Meri, Leon Danielian, Lillian Lanese, Lois Smith, Lucas Hoving, Mia Slavenska, Maria Tallchief, Marianne Preger, Marina Svetlova, Mark Ryder, Mary Ellen Moylan, Mata and Hari, Merce Cunningham, Michael Lland, Michael Maule, Myra Kinch, Nicholas Magallanes, Nicholas Polajenko,Nora Kaye, Norma Vance, Norman Walker, Patricia Bowman, Paul Godkin, Peter Di Falco, Ram Gopal, Rebecca Harris, Remy Charlip, Ruth Ann Koesun, Ruth Currier, Ruth Gilbert, Ruth St. Denis, Sahomi Tachibana, Sallie Wilson, Talley Beatty, Tanaquil Le Clercq, Tatiana Grantzeva, Ted Shawn, Viola Farber, Violette Verdy, Zebra Nevins.
With her ballet students at the Peabody Conservatory she taught the classics. During my years studying with Miss Lynn, 1960-1966, we performed as members of the Peabody Senior Ballet Company in the dance portions of operas at the Lyric Theater in Baltimore, in addition to annual performances in the Peabody Conservatory Concert Hall: Les Sylphides, Aida, Carmen, The Magic Flute, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Die Fledermaus, amongst others. Performances were filmed by Miss Lynn and archived to the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Carol Lynn inspired her students to give their very best to their dancing; we were taught that success is 1% talent and 99% work. Her enthusiasm was especially contagious and uplifting when we went on stage, as she told us to 'just dance'! Miss Lynn filmed me in a solo, "The Scarf Dance," using a twenty foot long silk scarf, to the musical composition Gold and Silver Waltz by Franz Lehár in 1963, which I performed on the small stage in the Peabody Conservatory. Perhaps the greatest compliment I received from Miss Lynn was after a performance of the opera "Carmen" in the Lyric Theater when she said to me "You really danced!"
August 23, 2002
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Dance Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts http://www.nypl.org/research/lpa/dan/pdf/danlynn.pdf
Article 'Carol Lynn ...' ,"The Sun" newspaper, Baltimore, Maryland, by Weldon Wallace, Tuesday, October 8, 1976.
Photo of Carol Lynn from her private collection. Photographer unknown. The original was on wall 6 of our ballet studio at the Peabody for many years. Shared with me by Teri Hill Wimberley.
The group photograph above is from the Mary Campbell Collection, Texas Woman's University, and is used with permission.
Thank you to Kathy Wildberger for contributing her memories of Miss Lynn,
and for the newspaper article kept by her mother and used as a reference.
As a tribute to her life spent dedicated to dance, and dance education, I have incorporated what I learned in my years of studying ballet from Miss Lynn in my own dance work: http://www.susankramer.com/DanceSeries.html
links updated November 1, 2010; updated May 22, 2014