Dance publicist and impresario Larry Humphries was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 10, 1926. As a small child he took tap dance lessons, sparking a life-long interest in dance. In the 1940s, Humphries formed an exhibition dancing team called “The Champions” with his twin sister, Claire, and soon amassed a reputation as a local talent and dance instructor. After serving with the army’s 76th Engineer’s Construction Battalion during the Korean War, Humphries returned to Massachusetts and continued to dance, studying with Marjery Fielding and performing at Springfield’s historic Court Square Theatre. At this time he was also a member of the “Stars of Tomorrow” dance company, which staged productions frequently across western Massachusetts.
In the late 1950s, Humphries found work at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. Having summers off, he wrote to Ted Shawn, to whom he had been introduced a few years earlier, and volunteered to work for the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. He began working at the festival in 1961 as assistant publicity director and house manager, later rising to publicity director and working directly with Shawn. Because the festival occurred only in the summers, Humphries spent May through October at Jacob’s Pillow and in the winter worked other jobs, first in Massachusetts and later in New York City. He remained involved in all promotional aspects of Jacob’s Pillow until 1969, after which he maintained his connection to the festival as a freelance publicist, ticket holder, member of the Jacob’s Pillow Auxiliary, and valued friend.
In addition to his work at Jacob’s Pillow, Humphries provided freelance publicity assistance to a host of nationally and internationally known dancers and dance companies in the 1960s and 70s, including the Denishawn Repertory Dancers, Bhaskar, Ramón de los Reyes, Carola Goya & Matteo (for whom he stage managed a cross-country tour in 1961-1962), and La Meri. In a later interview, La Meri – a dancer, teacher, writer and dance ethnologist – dubbed Humphries both “a first-class PR man” and “a tremendous friend of dance.”
After moving back to western Massachusetts on a permanent basis, Humphries served as the co-director and owner of the Ballet Theatre School in Springfield, MA from 1979 to 1987, an honorary advisory board member of the Denishawn Repertory Dancers, an advisory board member for the Pioneer Valley Ballet and the Albany-Berkshire Ballet, and a council member for the Academic Artists Association of Springfield, MA. Throughout much of this time, Humphries also served as gallery manager, conservationist, and framer at The Little Gallery in Springfield, MA until his retirement in 1988.
In the 1990s, Humphries, a consummate entertainer, joined the Young at Heart Chorus, and sang the title song from the musical Hair
at the Rotterdam Music Festival in Holland.
Bremer, David LeRoy. “Tremendous Friend of the Dance.” New England Entertainment Digest
, 31 Jan. 1994: 9, 12.
Carbone, Angela. “Larry Humphries’ Heart Always in the Arts.” Springfield Union-News
. 27 Feb. 1997: OT5.
International Who’s Who of Entrepreneurs
. Date unknown.