Saturday, June 24, 2017


Sophia Delza: 
American Tai Chi Pioneer

Sophia Delza (1903-1996) was an American tai chi
pioneer, one of the first to widely promote tai chi 
in America. Originally a professional modern dancer 
and choreographer in New York City, as a young 
woman, Delza gave many public performances of 
Spanish and modern dance. 


In the 1920s she earned a science degree 
at Hunter College and then entered graduate school at 
Columbia University. Eventually she moved to Paris 
to further study dance. Upon returning to New York 
she began working in Vaudeville, film, and 
stage productions, dancing with James Cagney 
in the Grand Street Follies of 1928.
 
In 1948 she and her husband moved to Shanghai, China
 for three years, where she taught modern dance and 
studied Wu Style Tai Chi and sword forms, with the 
famous tai chi master, Ma Yueh Liang.  

In 1954 she returned to the US and gave the first 
documented public tai chi demonstration in America 
at New York's Museum of Modern Art. That same year 
she started The Delza School of Tai Chi Chuan at 
Carnegie Hall. By the 1960s she was writing articles, 
lecturing, making television appearances, and 
demonstrating tai chi to many audiences. 


She wrote her first book on tai chi,
T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Body & Mind in Harmony,  
in 1961, which is credited with being the first English 
language book on the subject of tai chi. During her 
teaching career, Delza taught tai chi for health at 
The United Nations, The Actor's Studio, 
SUNY Purchase, and the University of Hawaii.

Sophia Delza died in Manhattan in 1996 at the age of 92.

Delza wrote four books on tai chi including,

The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience: 
Reflections and Perceptions 
on Body-Mind Harmony

and

Tai Chi Chuan an Ancient Chinese Way


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