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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Ruth Hatfield


Ruth Hatfiled (1914- ) was born Ruth Hopkins Sanders on February 27, 1914 in Modesto, California and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1930. She attended the University of California, Berkeley and began her studies in Modern Dance with Bernice Van Gelder in the Physical Education Department.  By 1935, Ruth graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A in Economics and shortly after began teaching dance for the Dance Project of the National Youth Administration in San Francisco. Ruth married her husband, Donald Hatfield in 1936 and then moved to Minneapolis. While there, Ruth, along with fellow dancer, Gertrude Lippincott, founded the Modern Dance Center and Dance Group.  In 1940, the Hatfields made another move to Chicago, where Ruth trained with Martha Graham and Louis Horst in their Summer Programs.

In 1942, the couple moved back to San Francisco where Ruth continued to teach private dance classes. Once the San Francisco Dance League was established, in 1943, Ruth was appointed the first Chairman of the Board. The couple eventually decided to settle in Berkeley after their daughters were born. Don took residency at UC Berkeley, while Ruth continued to teach at the Holy Names College. In 1987, Ruth was appointed a member of the nominating committee for the Dance Bay Area Isadora Duncan Awards and was made adjudicator for the SF Dance Festival produced by the Dance Bay Area.

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