In her studies as a young woman, Marion reflected the leaning towards the progressive and bohemian that had been cultivated in her by her mother. At the New School for Social Research, she studied child psychology, anthropology with Franz Boaz (Hurley 7), and dance with Ruth St. Denis, a pioneer of modern dance. She pursued her interest in experimental dance further at New York University with Doris Humphrey (Hendrickson 31). As Paul Hendrickson describes, Humphrey was interested in

investigating the laws of kinetic rhythm. She [was], you might say, pushing the outside of the envelope. She [had] come to a theory that the action of human dance exists upon an arc, almost a graph, from balance to unbalance, from fall to recovery. And that between that motionlessness of perfect balance and the 'chaos' of a complete yield to gravity lay 'an arc between two deaths.' Both of these pioneers, Humphrey and St. Denis, [believed] that dance- no, life- should 'move to an inner law. (Hendrickson 31)

Scholars on Marion's work for the FSA have suggested that these ideas about movement, presence, and the empowering nature of physical expression surface in her photographs, in the ways she translates ideas into composition.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001

Links that take you outside of this discussion:

If you want to know a bit more about the new school of anthropology Franz Boaz was making so influential in the 1930s, you might want to read up on ideas about "culture." Zora Neale Hurston also trained under Boaz at Columbia.