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Dieman-Bennett Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)



The internationally renowned Dieman-Bennett Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres began in 1951 when Edna Dieman and Julia Bennett rented a room in the Cedar Rapids YWCA to give dance lessons. Edna Dieman, a native Iowan, received a B.A. in music from Coe College, Iowa, and continued the study of dance at institutions around the world. She studied classical ballet, Spanish dance, and Indian dance among many other styles and became a member of the Ethnologic Ballet Company, dancing in New York City under the direction of La Meri. Julia Bennett, born in Chittagong, India to English parents, is an alumnus of Lowther College, North Wales, and studied voice and classical ballet in London, England. She was auditioned by Sir Henry Wood and accepted at the Royal College of Music, London. Later she studied voice with Julian Kimball and ballet with Madame Legat and Preobrazhenskaya in Paris. During her early career, Bennett made many singing appearances in India with Julia Wortman, including performances with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. Edna Dieman and Julia Bennett met in New York. Initially the two women returned to Cedar Rapids from New York each summer to teach dance. Dieman and Bennett pointed to their encounter with a twelve-year-old student, who sadly told them at the end of the session, "It's all right for you to come and give us a month, but we have to stay here without anything," as planting the seed for them to form a studio in Iowa. In 1950 they moved permanently to Cedar Rapids and began teaching dance year round. The credo of Dieman-Bennett Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres was "Diversity in Dance," a philosophy reflected in the many cultural influences from which their instruction was drawn. Their repertoire included classical Indian and Spanish dance, contemporary tap and jazz, court dances from the 11th through the 18th century, and classical ballet. The company offered concerts for children and adults, lecture-demonstrations, dance history, teaching seminars, and master classes with visiting dancers. Among these visitors was Dieman's mentor La Meri, who gave to Edna Dieman her choreography of Swan Lake, "translated into the dance-idiom of India," which became a feature of many of the Dance Theatre's performances. The Dieman-Bennett Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres closed its doors permanently in 1997. Edna Dieman died in 1999 at the age of ninety-five. Julia Bennett died in 2014 at the age of ninety-seven.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Dieman-Bennett Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) records

Identifier: IWA0265

Cedar Rapids dance studio founded in 1951 by Edna Dieman and Julia Bennett.

Dates: 1929-2017