May O’Donnell (1909-2004), an American dancer, choreographer, and teacher, studied
with Estelle Reed in San Francisco and Martha Graham in New York. She was a soloist
with Graham’s company from 1932 to 1938. In 1939 she presented her first program
her own work, and from 1940 to 1942 she toured with José Limón. She returned to
Graham’s company in the mid-1940s, appearing as a guest artist from 1944 to 1952.
1949 she founded the May O’Donnell Dance Company which performed in New York and
tour until the 1980s. She was married to the composer Ray Green. May O’Donnell
in 2004 at the age of ninety-seven.
The May O’Donnell Collection, 1930s-1996, is arranged into two series, I. Photographs
and II. Publicity Materials. The photographs are subdivided into personal and
performance photographs, with the latter arranged alphabetically by title. The
majority of the photographs show May O’Donnell or her company in performance,
to 1980s. Except for one color photograph for Homage to
Shiva, all photographs are black and white. Some of the photographs are
reproductions of originals not held by the Ransom Center.
The publicity materials are arranged chronologically and consist of promotional
fliers, programs, reviews, and articles, supplemented by a few miscellaneous items
such as a 1959 contract with the University of California and two letters, one
1956 written by May O’Donnell to the critic Walter Terry, and a 1978 letter from
Grace Cohen Jaffe (formerly Grace Marcus) to May O’Donnell (filed in the 1949
Elsewhere in the Performing Arts Collection, the Dance Collection contains reviews
performances by May O’Donnell’s company. A compact disc titled "Ray Green and His Music" is located in the Ransom