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DELSARTE SYSTEM of EXPRESSION

Lost but now Found

  • 1811: Francois Delsarte born in France.
  • 1822: Apprenticed to a porcelain painter.
  • 1825: Enters the Conservatory to study music.
  • 1829: Improper voice coaching having wrecked his voice, Delsarte becomes, with the help of influential friends, a music professor.
  • 1871: Delsarte dies.
  • 1871: Stelle Mackaye, a Delsarte protege, brings Delsarte to the US.
    It is an instance hit and becomes widely diluted, distorted and commercialized.
  • 1885: Genevieve Stebbins, a student of Mackaye, publishes The Delsarte System of Expression.
  • 1891: Delsarte practice has degenerated into a culture of posing.
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"[T]he name Delsarte generally calls forth images of dramatic poses to simulate human emotions, the likes of which are associated with old-fashioned melodrama and silent film performances. If remembered at all, it is usually as a subject of ridicle at worst, and historical curiosity at best. Yet, it is the historically acknowledged source of the inspiration of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Dennis, and the entire Dennishawn School, which included students, Martha Grapham, Doris Humphrey, and thereby, the entire second generation of early modern dancers. It was studied by Rudolph von Laban and taught by F. Mathias Alexander before they each developed their own methods. It was the mehtod used to establish the first acting school in the US. Delsarte's work was praised by some of the greatest minds of the day, from scientists, to religious scholars, musicians, and artists. Even renowned yogis mentioned it with the greatest respect." —Joe Williams, Delsarte System of Expression - Lost in History, print. Joe Williams of NYC has become a leading, if not THE leading, exponent of the Delsarte acting method in the world today. He travels across the US and internationally giving classes and workshops and also teaches in his home base in NYC.

Art of Oratory, 1884, written by a student after Delsarte's death.

Delsarte System of Expression, Genevieve Stebbins, 1885

Society Gymnastics and Voice-Culture adapted from the Delsarte System, Genevieve Stebbins, 1888.

Americanized Delsarte Culture, 1892.

Dynamic Breathing and Harmonic Gymnastics 1892.

Related: TED series: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy.



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