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Gwen Bowen Oral History, 2005

Identifier: D009.04.0005.00006


Denver, Colo. native Gwen L. Bowen relates her life in dance, beginning with her early childhood education and dance classes studying under Claire Denne and Lillian Cushing. She participated in Denne's summer dance programs at Elitch Gardens in Denver. In 1946, when a high school junior, Bowen was a soloist in the Denver Post Opera. She injured her ankle but kept dancing through several performances. She had torn all of the tendons in her foot and was told she would never dance again. Because of this injury she went to college and became an elementary education teacher. When Bowen found she could dance again, she studied in New York under Robert Joffrey and Maria Nevelska. On her second trip to New York she studied with Thalia Mara and taught dance. Because of her injuries Bowen could never dance professionally again so she became a dance teacher in Denver. She opened her first studio in 1953, teaching all styles of dance. Her students were of all ages but she loved the children the most. In the 1960's Bowen was one of the founders of the Denver Civic Ballet. The Civic Ballet broke up and Bowen started the Premiere Dance Arts Company. Ballet was her first love but her company performed all forms of dance. The Company conducted tours throughout Colorado. The Company no longer exists but Bowen's studio PDAC - Arts for All, does. Bowen loves what dancing does for children. She says dance teaches discipline and how to keep a healthy body. She also teaches her students that dance is not an art in itself. Bowen says: ''We have music, we have the design, we have lighting, we have color, we have texture. Practically any form you think of can fit in dance. There is the emotional end of it, the theatre end of it, costumes, lighting, design, all goes.''


  • 2005


Digital Repository

Gwen Bowen Oral History

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Biographical / Historical

Gwen Bowen began dancing at 3 years old. As a teenager she studied with Lillian Cushing and eventually began as an assistant to Cushing. After graduating from the University of Denver, Bowen began her career as a teacher for Denver Public Schools. In 1953 she founded her own dance school on South Pearl. She started the performing company 'Premiere Dance Arts' that evolved into 'Arts For All.' Bowen was a founding member of Denver Civic Ballet and has been honored by Colorado Dance Alliance and Dance Teacher Magazine. Gwen passed away in 2012. Her estate established the Bowen Family Performing Arts Fund of The Denver Foundation.


1 Items (sound tape cassette)

Scope and Contents

From the Series: This series contains transcripts, cassettes, and personal files on the 2005 'Legends of Dance.'

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good 1 cassette tape 61 minutes, 7 seconds


Gift of the Friends of the Carson Brierly Dance Library, 2004.


reformatted digital
Interview conducted at 714 South Pearl St., Denver, Colo., 80209-4213, February 17, 2005.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428