In early Parthenon publications, Schertel made friendly reference to the dance school of Ida Herion in Stuttgart, which had been operating since 1912, but his relation to this institution remains very obscure. Indeed, knowledge of Ida Herion herself seems confined to two books of photographs featuring her students, Adolphi and Kettmann's Tanzkunst und Kunsttanz (1927) and Isenfels's Getanzte Harmonien (1926). Although the books presented the work of quite dissimilar photographers, both displayed some of the most elegant images of dance produced in the Weimar Republic, and the credit for this elegance was due in no small degree to the dance aesthetic itself. But despite her enthusiasm for nudity, Ida Herion cultivated a concept of dance that differed significantly from Schertel's.
Of the sixty-four photos taken by Adolphi and Ohlen, only two were taken outside, and only one depicted a group; the rest showed unidentified solo dancers before an uncontextualized white background. The order of the images appears arbitrary, without obvious narrative significance. Although total nudity occurs fairly often, the most peculiar aspect of the image series is the posing of dancers in costumes of a theatrical nature: diaphanous or veil-like skirts and dresses, satiny tunics, metallic bikinis, flamboyant pajamas, shiny or feathery headbands (Figures 17–19). Only two images show a male dancer, and he wears a strange, side-slit gown, neither a robe nor a dress but a kind of glamorous, sleeveless toga. The pictures indicate how costume shapes the identity of movement, for every movement in every image could just as well accommodate another costume on a different dancer. The costumes project a purely ornamental effect that does not readily signify a particular sociocultural context. Yet neither do the costumes signify the conventional exoticism found in the work of dancers who sought to incorporate decorative elements from other cultures, such as China (Grit Hegesa), Egypt (Sent M'ahesa), Bali (Gertrud Leistikow), Korea (Anita Berber), Persia (Yvonne Georgi), ancient Greece (Lotte Neelsen), and Arabia (Joachim von Seewitz). Nor do the costumes assume the futuristic, robotic abstractionism associated with some "machine" dances by, for example, the Bauhaus, Vera Skoronel, and Gertrud Bodenwieser. Nevertheless, the costumes are uniquely modern in their elegant sleekness and sensuality, their luxurious pliancy, their subordination to the supple contours of the body. The beauty of the bodies is considerable and completely independent of the costumes: both nudity and movement work to produce the perception that it is above all the beauty of the body that justifies the dynamic impulse toward dance.
All 120 photos in the Isenfels book situate dancers within a specific context: namely, a luxurious neoclassical villa and garden. The number of groups shots is quite large, and the number of pictures including male
dancers is much greater than in Tanzkunst . The same sorts of costumes appear, as do the same sorts of undulant movement tropes. But now the image of dance seems cultically aristocratic, partly because of the dramatic organization of group shots; partly because of the effort to contrast radiant bodies against hard, stoney surfaces, tiled floors, or lush foliage; and partly because of the photographer's desire to observe the dancers from unusual angles or distances, thus establishing for the bodies a dynamic, expansive relation to space. Photos show dancers tight against stone walls, on stone stairways, before large stone doorways or arches, along colonnades, in vast ballroom interiors, beside pools, on stone ambuscades, in garden paths or meadows, around pillars, and on hillsides (Figures 20–22). Chiaroscura effects are largely absent, as are any concessions to the grotesque, but ambiguity of sexual identity pervades several images of male dancers, who occasionally wear the strange togas and assume only poses that are not exclusive to them. That the dancers, rather than the photographer, determined this seductive imagery of bodies in space is evident by examining Isenfels's other book, Gymnastik als Lebensfreude (1926), which depicted children and young women at the Zopport school in Osterstrand on the Baltic seacoast. Here the imagery of health and joy is much more generic and submissive to the beachfront authority of nature.
Both the Adolphi and Isenfels books indicate that, unlike Schertel, Herion linked nudism and ecstatic dance not to the recovery of an atavistic, primordial state of freedom but to the achievement of an aristocratic freedom or remoteness from any familiar place, be it wilderness, the bourgeois studio, or the conventional theatre stage. Ecstasy resulted from the elegantly poised beauty of the dancing body, its ability to create its own beautiful world. Hers was an intensely eroticized image of dance. The Isenfels book went through seven editions, so we may assume that this dance eroticism appealed to a much larger audience than the one Schertel reached or, indeed, than that reached by the great majority of dance books.