CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y., Feb. 6, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- When an individual explores and deeply appreciates a culture, the culture will embrace that person. Claire Holt's contributions were significant and influential - as a performing artist, researcher, and ethnographer in a new land, and at a critical time in history. Her life was a crisscrossing of many geographical and historical factors. Experience Claire Holt's journey in this beautifully documented biography by Deena Burton, Sitting at the Feet of Gurus.

Claire Holt was born at the turn of the century to an upper middle-class Jewish family in Latvia. WWI forced their move to Moscow, and in 1920 she immigrated to New York as a young bride. She studied sculpture, modern dance, journalism, and law, and started a career as a reporter and modern dance critic. In 1930, Claire traveled again, this time to Asia. She landed in Bali, and spent a decade in the Dutch East Indies studying Javanese dance, exploring ancient temple art, and living and working with the eminent Dutch archaeologist William Frederic Stutterheim. Claire was also an important guide, translator, and research assistant for Swedish dance archivist Rolf de Mare, on his expeditions documenting Indonesian dance in photos and film. WWII broke out and Claire returned to New York. There, she gave frequent lecture-demonstrations on Javanese culture and dance, worked with Margaret Mead at the American Museum of Natural History, and helped found the East Indies Institute. She taught, wrote, published and worked for the U.S. State Department. In 1955, under the auspices of Cornell University and supported by a Rockefeller grant, Claire returned to Indonesia to complete research for her magnum opus, Art in Indonesia: Continuities and Change. She came back to the United States in 1957, and continued her work with the Modern Indonesia Project in Cornell University's Department of Southeast Asian Studies. Even after her death in 1970, her brilliant work and contribution to scholarship in Javanese dance, culture, and art is recognized and appreciated. Then and today, the importance of Claire Holt's investigations into art and performance serve as a valuable tool for social understanding.

Follow in her footsteps, as author Deena Burton shares the fascinating life and dance ethnography of Claire Holt in Sitting at the Feet of Gurus. For more information, log on to

About the Author

Deena Burton is well known for her accomplishments as a dancer, choreographer, producer, and scholar of Indonesian Arts. This book, which began as Deena's PhD dissertation, is a tribute to her own dedication and that of a kindred spirit - Claire Holt - and their love for the arts and peoples of Indonesia.

             Sitting at the Feet of Gurus * by Deena Burton
              The Life and Dance Ethnography of Claire Holt
                     Publication Date: 01/26/2009
          Cloth Hardback; $29.99; 247 pages; 978-1-4363-6511-6

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