Magazine Feature

Penrose exhibit celebrates life of legendary modern dancer

A photo from Penrose Library's exhibit on Hanya Holm. “Hanya Holm: When Modern Dance Came to Colorado” is on display at DU’s Penrose Library. The exhibit features photos and information about Holm, who was one of the innovators of modern dance.

“Hanya Holm: When Modern Dance Came to Colorado” is on display at DU’s Penrose Library. The exhibit features photos and information about Holm, who was one of the innovators of modern dance.

“Even though we’d known Holm had a lot of ties to Colorado and the region, we kept discovering new connections in our collections throughout the development process, which was a lot of fun, and very rewarding,” says Kate Crowe, a Penrose archives processing librarian.

During her 43-year career, Holm co-directed the world premiere of the opera The Ballad of Baby Doe at the Central City Opera House in Central City, Colo., and had a great impact on her students here in Denver. Students Martha Wilcox, Vera Sears, and Freidann Parker, would go on to direct and teach at the Children’s Dance Theatre at the Lamont School of Music dance department in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Parker later was the co-founder of the Colorado Ballet.

The information and photographs in the exhibit come from the Carson-Brierly Dance Library, one of the Penrose Library’s special collections.

Jessie de la Cruz, a graduate student in DU’s library and information science program, was hired to process the dance collection. She says the experience of collaborating on the design of the exhibit was academically and personally rewarding.

“We felt that it was very important to pay homage to Hanya Holm and shed some light on her influence on DU, Denver and the West in a way that would be visually engaging to patrons,” de la Cruz says.

The colorful exhibit, which is located near DU’s Writing Center, incorporates photographs, graphics and colors to grab the attention of library patrons.

“To be able to apply my background in graphic and exhibition design to a library environment made me realize that I was on the right career path, and validated my belief that there is a need in cultural heritage institutions to be able to visually communicate about the unique resources that are too often hidden,” de la Cruz says.

The exhibit is open through June 21.

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