Gertrude Kurath's article “George Gershwin's Concerto in F at the Yale School of Drama” gives us entry into the dances of two worlds. One is the Euro-American world of creative dance composition exemplified by the 1930 slice of time at the then newly established Yale School of Drama. The other is the Native American and Black American dance world that allows a glimpse into the expansive transformation of Kurath's “kinetic empathy” (Kurath 1986:3).
For the first, Kurath reminisces about the 1930 Yale dance group. During an informal meeting Gershwin discussed with Kurath and Harriet Meyer their experimental choreography for his Concerto in F. This vignette is a gem that is salvaged for history by Kurath's reconstruction.
Some persons in the 1930 Yale dance group became known by works that could not have been predicted by their activities at the Yale School of Drama, Virginia More Roediger, for example, later wrote the unique and valuable reference book Ceremonial Costumes of the Pueblo Indians (1941). Kurath later became the doyen of dance ethnology, her great life work. That two of this small group would contribute important studies about American Indians is noteworthy and startling. The influences of non-Euro-American dances — chronicled extensively — must have become embedded in the world view of Euro-American concert dancers by the time Kurath and her colleagues were studying at the Yale School of Drama.
In footnote four of the current article, Kurath suggests “pertinent” references that are reprinted in her 1986 book of essays. Choreographic guidelines are packaged in “Dance Design” (1931 in 1986:2) along with “Harmony and Conflict in Structure” (1932 continuation of 1931 in 1986:9). She instructs that a group composition should have parallelisms and contradictions that are achieved, respectively, by repetition and counter-motifs. Kurath notes that “concentration and harmony are the first prerequisites; interest is increased and pattern enriched by contrasting and conflicting lines. All point is lost if the ensemble does not build to a climax” (1932 in 1986:14). That the Yale performance of Gershwin's Concerto in F follows these guidelines is demonstrated in her analytical description, and the pattern contrasts indicated by the drawings that accompany this current article.