Stamp collecting is a wonderful way to learn about people, events, topics, and places. The images on beautiful stamps enhance life events, express interest in subjects such as nature and art, and delight by honoring sports, individuals, and events. For National Dance Day, July 28, 2012, the United States Postal Service dedicated its newest stamps and paid tribute to four influential choreographers, who forever changed the art of dance in America and around the world: Isadora Duncan, Jose Limon, Katherine Dunham, and Bob Fosse.
Ruth Goldway, chairman of the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, indicated, “Together, the PRC and the Postal Service believe these stamps will serve as a reminder of the achievements made by these truly innovative choreographers. We hope more people will learn about the incredible contributions they made and their enduring legacies.”
Art by James McMullan
Designed to look like posters advertising a performance, the colorful stamps capture the art of the individual dance styles. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps using illustrations by James McMullan, widely known for his work for Lincoln Center Theater in New York City.
National Dance Day
National Dance Day was originally conceived by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer and co-creator of “So You Think You Can Dance,” the FOX prime-time dance reality show and was acknowledged by the United States Congress in 2010. It is a nationwide grassroots initiative designed to promote the joy and benefits of dance for everyone.
Nigel Lythgoe indicated, “I want to thank the U.S. Postal Service for creating such beautiful stamps honoring these four legendary choreographers and for issuing them on National Dance Day. I hope these stamps serve not only to educate people about the art of dance and its history, but also to motivate them to dance themselves.”
A postmark commemorating the Innovative Choreographers stamps and paying tribute to dance, will cancel First-Class postage stamps on letters and postcards nationwide from Saturday, July 28 through Friday, Aug. 31. The postmark image features the words “Just Dance” below three silhouetted dancers.
Convenient, forever stamps
The Innovative Choreographers stamps are being issued as Forever stamps in self-adhesive sheets of 20 (5 of each design). Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce rate in effect at the time of mailing.
History of honoring dance
The U.S. Postal Service has paid tribute to the art of dance five, previous times:
- American Dance – in 1978, honoring Ballet, Theater, Folk, Modern
- American Indian Dances – in 1996, honoring Fancy Dance, Butterfly Dance, Traditional Dance, Raven Dance, Hoop Dance
- Ballet in 1998
- American Choreographers — in 2004, honoring Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Agnes de Mille, George Balanchine
- Let’s Dance – in 2005, honoring Merengue, Salsa, Cha Cha, Mambo.
The highly acclaimed, innovative choreographers honored in the U.S. Postal Service’s newest stamps have a vibrant history of contribution to dance. The four, well-known choreographers honored by the U.S. Postal Service’s 2012 stamp issue are the following individuals:
- Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) — Dancer, adventurer, revolutionary and ardent defender of the poetic spirit, Duncan has been one of the most enduring influences on contemporary culture. Virtually single-handedly, Duncan restored dance to a high place among the arts. Breaking with convention, she traced the art of dance back to its roots as a sacred art. Duncan is credited with inventing what later came to be known as Modern Dance. The image on the stamp reflects Duncan’s interest in classical Greek dance.
- Jose Limon (1908-1972) — Jose Limon was born in Culiacan, Mexico. At age 7, he moved to the United States, where he later studied with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and danced with their company (1930-1940). He established his own company in 1947, with Humphrey as artistic director. The company toured worldwide during Limon’s life and remained active after his death. On the stamp image, Limon is shown in a performance pose.
- Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) — Katherine Dunham became one of the first African-American women to attend the University of Chicago, where she earned a doctoral degree in anthropology. She was a pioneer in the use of folk and ethnic choreography and one of the founders of the anthropological dance movement. She is credited for bringing Caribbean and African influences to a European-dominated dance world. On the stamp image, Dunham is shown in a pose from her critically acclaimed ballet “L’Ag’Ya.”
- Bob Fosse (1927-1987) — Bob Fosse was one of the 20th century’s great choreographers. As an artist, Fosse was known for his thoroughly modern style, a signature one could never mistake for anyone else’s. Snapping fingers are omnipresent, so are rakishly tilted bowler hats. Both hip and shoulder rolls appear frequently, as do backward exits. Swiveling hips and strutting predominate, as do white-gloved, single-handed gestures. The image on the stamp portrays Fosse on the set of “Sweet Charity.”
How to order first-day-of-issue postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local post offices, at The Postal Store, or by calling 800-STAMP-24.
Once the commemorative stamps are purchased, collectors should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to: Innovative Choreographers Stamps, Los Angeles District, 7001 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90052-9998.
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the U.S. Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by Sept. 28, 2012.
How to order first-day covers
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and postal stationery items post-marked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic Catalog.
Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to: U.S. Postal Service Catalog Request, PO Box 219014, Kansas City, MO 64121-9014.
A lifetime of learning and fun from stamp collecting
The monthly publication, Linn’s Stamp News, estimates more than 5 million individuals in the United States collect the small pieces of paper that indicate payment of postage. The American Philatelic Society indicates stamp collecting, called “the hobby of kings and the king of hobbies,” has involved notables including President Franklin Roosevelt, Warren Buffet, James Michener, Jacques Cousteau, John Lennon, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Stamp collecting is an educational hobby that can last a lifetime. The newest stamps commemorating dance are a wonderful way to initiate young learners into the hobby of stamp collecting or for established stamp collectors to continue their passion.
But, even if you’re not a dedicated stamp collector, the U.S. Postal Service’s newest stamps, honoring 2012’s National Dance Day, can bring dance’s vibrant beauty to the convenience of forever stamps used on your ordinary mail.
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