Building Children’s Personalities with Creative Dancing (1953)

16 Mar
Director Frank Goldsmith
Producer University Extension/University of California
Contributors Written by Laurence Frank, Jr. and Gary Goldsmith
Length 30 min.
B&W/Color Color
UO Library Catalog description: Demonstrates dancing as an approach to personal development through art.
Call # FILM Mc16
Genre Instructional/Documentary
Rare YES
Online NO
Copyright status PUBLIC DOMAIN
Physical condition FAIR
Oregon-related NO


The film is an ethnographic study of children’s dancing with an interpretive voice-of-god narrative to describe the intent, hopes, and desires of the researchers. Dancing was instructed by Gertrude Knight, a dance instructor who worked for Children’s Music Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Children’s Music Center writes of itself, “More than a record shop….a center staffed by consultants trained to help parents and teachers select the finest records and books for any age, from pre-school to beyond the university. Here you will not find the trite or the violent; only what stimulates children to move, listen, play an instrument, relax or create. We are especially proud of our tremendous collections of material on history and contributions of Black and Spanish-speaking Americans; the best of our own heritage, and that of people everywhere.” Source

This knowledge of Knight’s background helps explain the music selection used by experimenters, which is not your run-of-the-mill rock ‘n roll.

BFI’s description: “Made to demonstrate an approach to personal development through art—in this instance dancing. At first, like most children, a group of boys and girls are embarrassed and tense. A teacher skillfully guides and praises each child toward a unique personal and improvised style.”

Read about how Gertrude Knight touched the life of Lottie Jenvey, here.

Read another personal account of one of Knight’s former students, who learned to dance creatively at a summer camp in 1958.

Also contributing to the film, Edgar Brokaw—former Professor of Film and Television, Emeritus at UCLA. He passed away in 2002, but left a legacy in producing 71 films. Learn more about his life here and here.

The film was written by Lawrence Frank, Jr. and Gary Goldsmith. It is possible that Lawrence Frank, Jr. is the one mentioned in an obituary here—Frank and Goldsmith would go on to co-produce The Goldseeker (1956), a short western film (Source).

Read a 1968 news clipping that mentions the film in conjunction with special education films.

One Response to “Building Children’s Personalities with Creative Dancing (1953)”

  1. Ross Frank October 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Lawrence Frank was my father. If this film is not available, we may have a 16mm print.

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