From 1951 until 1996, Edna Dieman (a 1925 Coe graduate) and her partner, Julia Bennett, ran the Dieman-Bennett Studio of Dance and directed the Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres in Cedar Rapids. Dieman and Bennett presided over the ballet classes for generations of eastern Iowans and staged the well-known Nutcracker Ballet in a variety of venues ranging from Franklin High School to the Paramount Theatre. But they also taught more unusual forms of dance not often found in small Midwestern cities including Hindu, Spanish and Renaissance dance, bringing a multicultural perspective on the arts to eastern Iowa.
In this one-week presentation, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Jane Nesmith will share the stories of these formidable women and the way they revolutionized dance education during the mid-20th century right here in Cedar Rapids. Participants will explore the historical and cultural context of the time, especially what was going on in dance. The ways Dieman and Bennett were influenced by - and also pushed back against - cultural expectations of a dance studio in a small city will be discussed. There will be lots of photos and video footage from Coe's Archives and the Iowa Women's Archives, and possibly a demonstration or two.