Theatre & Dance ETDs

Publication Date



In this thesis, I analyze the life and work of Mary Anthony in my exploration of modern dance with literary influence. I approach Anthonys use of Shakespearean and Biblical themes as dramatic and timeless literary stimuli for portraying morality, mortality, and humanity as important to the American modern dance style established by her predecessors. I discuss how her lifelong interest in theatre led to her use of dramatic literary sources as a way of producing dance with theatrical elements, or what she calls 'total theatre' rather than dance alone; the clear conception inherent in written works, as well as the lasting status of Shakespeare and the Bible in America, allowed her to create dances with clarity of ideas, plot, and character. I explore how Anthony's influences, styles, and methods allowed her to portray such well-known written themes without the words that would normally drive and transmit them. Here I specifically analyze Anthony's dances Lady Macbeth (1949), based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, and In the Beginning (Adam and Eve) (1970), and Cain and Abel (1972), both based on the Biblical stories in Genesis, in order to explore the differences in her use of each literary source in choreography. I discuss biographical information regarding influence and experience, her views and teaching methods, and her use of specific themes for dance. I explore the connection between Anthony's idea of total theatre, her use of dramatic literary themes, and her ability to use Shakespeare and the Bible in the creation of choreography within the established American style of an art form.

Degree Name

Theatre & Dance

Level of Degree


Department Name

Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Santos Newhall, Mary Anne

First Committee Member (Chair)

Santos Newhall, Mary Anne

Second Committee Member

Herrera, Brian

Third Committee Member

Predock-Linnell, Jennifer




Anthony, Mary--Criticism and interpretation, Modern dance--United States

Document Type