In 1928, two-dozen women attending BYU stood on the banks of the Provo River. Together, they carefully choreographed for their interpretive dance class as the photographer, William Done, scrupulously captured their movements.
Both the photographer and the subjects of the photographs are getting attention with the recent restoration of the nearly 90-year old photos. Done’s son, Duane, painstakingly restored the images with the use of Photoshop late last year. He also designed 11 clean-cut posters of the dancers, which may be sold by the Department of Dance in the future.
“We can’t wait for these photos to grace our hallways and in an honorary place in our building,” said Marilyn Berrett, chair of the Department of Dance.
The uncovering precedes the 35-year anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Dance in 1980. The department hopes that this will be the beginning of remembering both Done and early dance predecessors.
According to Berrett, these images portray a technique called barefoot aesthetic dance. The form was made famous by legendary dancers Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.
“These free flowing outfits are very indicative of the barefoot aesthetic dance, which was the predecessor of modern dance in the U.S.,” Berrett explained.
The college wiki indicates that students would often perform recitals on the mossy banks. These classes triggered an interest in social dance classes that became part of the university curriculum, and later led to the creation of the Department of Dance in 1980.
Although Done didn’t study the fine arts, he still had an affinity for them. He graduated from BYU in 1926 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He was then offered a job to teach astronomy to undergraduate students, which he did for four years before moving to Arizona. His fascination with astronomy and telescopes also contributed to a lifetime passion for photography.
In order to preserve the timeless pieces, Duane kindly donated his father’s photographs and negatives to Special Collections in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.
“I just don’t want my dad’s work to be lost to history without anyone ever seeing it,” Duane expressed.
Done’s photographs will be exhibited in a hallway gallery in the Richards Building in mid-May.