Enters, Angna (1907–1989)

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Enters, Angna (1907–1989)

American dancer, painter, and author who was the foremost mime of her day. Born in New York City on April 28, 1907; died in Tenafly, New Jersey, on February 25, 1989; grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; daughter of Edward and Henriette (Gasseur-Styleau) Enters; art study, she wrote, consisted of "an intermittent elementary school course, some work (chiefly swimming) during an adolescent summer month in a camp, and one unfinished evening semester at the New York Art Students League" under John Sloan.

After touring with Japanese dancer Michio Itow, Angna Enters borrowed money to rent the Greenwich Village theater, sent out handbills, chose costumes from her own closet, and made her New York City debut in a solo mime recital in 1926; the theater soon became known as the Theater of Angna Enters, in which she portrayed over 300 characters. She followed this with appearances in London and Paris and a European tour. Because Enters created novel combinations of dance, pantomime, and music, presented with original scenic and lighting effects, the critics did not know how to cast her. Louis Untermeyer wrote in The Nation (December 5, 1928), that she was a "dancer who does not dance; an actress who does not speak; a dramatist who makes the audience supply the drama." He then went on to rave of her work.

In The Queen of Heaven, for example, she would sit in a stained-glass window, wearing a richly brocaded, vestment-like robe, holding a red heart that was clearly intended to represent the Christ child, all the while moving gracefully from one pose to another, recreating the various depictions of the Madonna and Child as found in medieval art. In another skit, at the opposite end of the thematic spectrum, she humorously portrayed a Parisian prostitute eyeing potential customers from her seat at a sidewalk cafe, every gesture and glance perfectly on target.

After 1933, Enters began to exhibit over 1,000 of her paintings in American galleries and gave individual exhibitions in 71 leading American and European museums and galleries; she was awarded two Guggenheim fellowships. Some of her paintings are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. She wrote many books, often self-illustrated. Among her works are the volumes of personal reminiscences First Person Plural (1937) and Silly Girl (1944), the play Love Possessed Juana (1939), the screenplays Lost Angel (1944) and Tenth Avenue Angel (1948), and nearly 150 dance compositions set to her own music. Her story "Mama's Angel" was filmed by MGM as Lost Angel with Margaret O'Brien in the lead. In the 1960s, Enters served artistic residencies at the Dallas Theater Center and Baylor University.


Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1940 and 1952.

suggested reading:

Enters, Angna. Silly Girl. NY: Houghton, 1944.