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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Henry Glass

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Henry “Buzz” Glass (1915-2013) life as a dancer is marked by his passion for folk dance. He performed, studied and researched, choreographed, taught, organized folk dance festivals, and published over the course of his professional career. He studied modern dance practices in San Francisco from masters such as Katherine Dunham, José Limón, May O’Donnell and Gertrude Schur. In the early 1940s, he co-founded the California Folk Dance Federation, Inc. He received a Ford Foundation Fellowship to study the history, culture and dance of Mexico, and from 1954-55, he conducted fieldwork in folk, folkloric, classical and indigenous dance. Glass is a master teacher who taught in the Oakland Public School District, eventually serving as Supervisor of Elementary Physical Education and Coordinator of Special Education. Retiring in 1973, he went on to offer workshops in many forms of folk dance throughout the United States over the course of twenty years.

Glass’ earliest dance experiences were the middle and high school social dances of his youth in the 1920s. During college he attended Song Chang’s folk dance group as a charter member. There he was exposed to a rich diversity of folk dance, from Hungarian to Russian, Polish to Afro-Haitian. In 1939, he performed folk dance at the International Exposition held in San Francisco on Treasure Island. His nearly thirty year contract with Educational Activities in New York yielded over thirty albums, cassettes, CD’s and videos of dances, chants, stories and physical education activities for children. This body of work and his books serve as standards in the field of children’s movement curricula. 

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