The Bauhaus Experiments
The demand, especially among the young, for knowledge about bodily performance and expressivity was very strong during the Weimar era, and even quite provincial cities could boast not one but two or three schools for gymnastic/dance instruction. As early as 1920, the Mensendieck-Bund alone claimed to have 122 academy-trained instructors managing classes in 63 German cities (FGW 219–223). Through the proliferation of media publicity about body culture, students became more worldly and demanding as the decade progressed, and the competition of schools for students became keener. Strong schools tended to attract government subsidies, but by 1927 they could not receive them unless they met accreditation standards established jointly by the various professional organizations representing state-salaried teachers and educational administrators. The effect of accreditation procedures was to make the curricula of many schools look, on paper at least, alike, with so many hours devoted to anatomy, gymnastics, dance, music, theory, group exercise, and so forth.
The Bauhaus school (1919–1932) in Weimar and then Dessau has provoked intense curiosity because of its supposedly extravagant avant-garde attitude toward theatre and dance performance. However, the Bauhaus was a design and fine arts school and, as such, did not have to conform to the pedagogic expectations imposed upon schools more overtly focused on educating the dancing body. This exception allowed the Bauhaus to explore startling possibilities that the dance schools lacked the resources or even inclination to consider. Of course, the Bauhaus had to conform to other expectations—dance objectives always had to remain subordinate to design objectives—and while architect Walter Gropius headed the institution, the Bauhaus theatre program, to the continual frustration of theatre director Oskar Schlemmer and students alike, constantly retained a peripheral status. Nevertheless, the eccentric Bauhaus dance aesthetic has provoked abundant fascination and commentary, most of which Dirk Scheper documented exhaustively, lavishly, and beautifully in Oskar Schlemmer: Das Triadische Ballett und die Bauhausbühne (1988). But the complexities of the Bauhaus culture are too complex for any single account and continue to remain more documented than explained.
In Weimar, Gropius planned for the Bauhaus to incorporate theatrical performances into its public activities, although he did not make clear how, if at all, the curriculum should accommodate the study of theatrical art. The Bauhaus, he proposed, would bring to the public the results of research in the form of dances, dance plays, marionette plays, shadow plays, and stage works under the assumption that "the conscious application of laws of mechanics, optics, and acoustics is decisive for our form of theatre" (DS 65). Gropius brought in Lothar Schreyer (1886–1966) to coordinate the Bauhaus theatre program from 1921 to 1923. Schreyer was a hard-core expressionist with a highly idiosyncratic sense of abstraction. In 1915 he began collaborating with Herwarth Walden on the publication of the Berlin radical expressionist journal Der Sturm, and in 1918 he formed the Sturm-Bühne for the production of his own strange plays and those of Walden and August Stramm. But Schreyer found Berlin hostile to his experiments and moved to Hamburg, where from 1919 to 1920 he organized the Kampf-Bühne and collaborated with the bizarre dance couple of Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt. In Hamburg and Dresden, his hometown, he attracted a small but enthusiastic audience.
Gropius found Schreyer's radical deployment of technology and formal abstraction seductive; indeed, one can regard Schreyer as a kind of prophet of performance art, for he announced that expressionistic performance had "nothing to do with theatre" but was a completely different "stage artwork" (DS 66; Schreyer, Zwischen, 7–10). Schreyer, however, was a mystic, deeply fascinated with archaic Christianity, the moment of conversion from paganism in northern Europe. He saw the stage as a mysterious, dynamic beacon, the components of which produced a performance resembling a great, cinematic stained-glass window. Paul Scheerbart's fantastic ideas for comet and astral dances, published in 1903, also stirred his imagination (LS 39–45). Light and color possessed an inherent performative interest and were sources of action in themselves; thus, the "sacral" performance space, closer to an ancient shrine than a theatre, might contain a violet tapestry, black and gold costumes, red masks, and white feathers, all bathed in a deep blue, deep orange, deep yellow, or dazzling silver glow or set against cathedral-like glass reflectors from which emanated powerful rainbow or prismatic transformations of light. Basic colors ("Grundfarben") functioned in relation to basic sounds, forms, and movements. The human figure appeared as a remote idol, moving, in a mechanized, marionette fashion, toward ecstatic transfiguration (Kersting 155–160) (Figure 35). The revelation of the inner, metaphysical condition of being depended on exposing the core of forms, as Brian Keith-Smith has put it (Schreyer, Zwischen, 156).
But Schreyer's idea of core movements derived from a perception of rhythm rooted in language, not music: "Through the rhythmic resounding
word, the human form of the expressionistic stage artwork materializes as a sound form, a movement form, and a color form," for "in the beginning was the word" (LS 152). Words were the basic source of all movement, but only when their sound values took precedence over grammatical logic. In his little dramas, Schreyer foregrounded the sound value of words by abandoning sentence structure and employing curious repetitions of words, alliterations, verbless phrases, nounless phrases, illogical word clusters, internal rhymes, and words isolated or suspended in space. Choral voices did not sing but spoke according to rhythmic-melodic values ascribed to the words. Music entered the performance through unusual instruments, such as a West African xylophone, a five-foot-wide drum, a glass harmonica, a violin, or glass chimes ("spherical music"). These notions Schreyer introduced in Sturm/Kampfbühne productions of Nacht (1916), Meer (1916), Sehnte (1917), and Mann (1917). However, it is not at all clear how bodies moved in relation to the words of the texts.
In Kreuzigung (1920), Schreyer "scored" all components of the performance as if it were a piece of music, using his own symbol code to indicate the dynamics. The action unfolded in "measures," and within each measure he designated the appropriate words, movements, intonations, sounds, pauses, and color effects. The words appeared in different typefaces to indicate different intonations (Gordon 89–103). The little play had only three characters, Man, Mother, and Mistress, speaking in an abbreviated, expressionistic manner: "Mother:¦in light¦my son¦is silent¦(Noise tones)¦Mistress: Men scream¦ Men go into¦battle¦I dance¦I¦." During this exchange Mother moved her right hand on her right breast and Mistress moved her right arm "sideways horizontally." The performers never moved from their initial positions on the red and yellow–draped performance space until the very end, when, after saying, "Awake. World. Awake," they stepped forward and down some stairs. The scoring of the performance created a haunting, glyphic, abstract design on the page, a bold embodiment of the "word artwork" that made up the core of the dynamic performance.
With this mysterium, Schreyer drifted toward a kind of serial organization of performance dynamics such as Schoenberg initiated with the twelvetone technique in music. In Skirnismól (1920) he resurrected a primeval image from the Edda to include, in addition to the exploded, fractured language, riding, sword, and scissor dances. At the Bauhaus, Schreyer gathered about him a small cult, including Hans Haffenrichter, Hermann Müller, Gertrud Grunow, and Franz Singer; he also worked with Eva Weidemann, a dancer not officially connected with the Bauhaus. With them he produced Mondspiel (1923), which featured a large, highly abstract, idol-like effigy of Mary in the Moon standing on a mysterious shell moved from behind by an invisible speaker. The shell projected a "moon eye," before which moved a masked male dancer. In other words, the male danced with a petrified idol
that actually moved through the dance of the invisible speaker, played by Weidemann. A man spoke the part of Mary, and a woman spoke the part of the dancer. Again, Schreyer "scored" all performance components in great detail (Waserka 127). But Gropius and many other members of the Bauhaus found Schreyer's thinking too cultish and esoteric, lacking in the rationalism they wished to define the Bauhaus ideology. The dogmatic, fanatical cult surrounding the mystical painter Johannes Itten had already caused enough tension in the school, so in 1923 Gropius dismissed Schreyer, who then pursued a career combining art history with an archaic, visionary Christianity.
On 30 September 1922, the Stuttgart premiere of Oskar Schlemmer's Das Triadische Ballett attracted considerable attention throughout Germany and inspired Gropius to appoint Schlemmer to manage the theatrical activities of the school. Schlemmer (1888–1943) studied art in Stuttgart, his hometown and produced artworks in a range of forms: paintings, wood and metal sculpture, watercolors, graphics, and murals. He had no formal training in either theatre or dance but nevertheless designed stage sets and costumes for several prominent theatres in Germany, beginning with 1921 productions of Hindemith's short operas Mörder Hoffnung der Frauen and Nusch-Nuschi in Stuttgart. Until 1930 Schlemmer designed sets for theatrical productions in Berlin, Weimar, Magdeburg, and Breslau, but none of these attracted as much attention as his Bauhaus designs, even though he sought to provide emphatically modern (abstract) images for both classical dramas (Shakespeare, Grabbe) and modernist texts (Stravinsky, Bartók, Schoenberg). In his artworks, Schlemmer had dedicated himself since 1915 almost entirely to the representation of the human form, exploring the limits of the tension between abstractness and humanness—"the human as a mathematically, geometrically defined type and representative of a higher order" (DS 8). In 1919 he helped found the strange Uecht circle of Stuttgart artists who pursued a kind of cubo-expressionism to suffuse images of modernity with mysticism, a vision that coincided in no small degree with that of Lothar Schreyer (Mück). But Schlemmer was a stronger theorist than Schreyer, and he cultivated a much more congenial attitude toward academic environments.
He began working for the Bauhaus in 1921 in the sculpture and metal workshops, where he produced Das Figural Kabarett (1922), a sort of mechanical cabaret using abstract dolls and doll parts. As head of the theatre workshop, Schlemmer was a popular teacher, partly because of his aggressively experimental attitude toward performance and partly because of his determination to build performance out of design concepts rather than out of texts. Performance at the Bauhaus was inseparable from the production of independently interesting artworks that had strong exhibition value: models of experimental stages and mechanical theatres, fig-
urines, watercolors, drawings, sculptures, and photographs. Many famous examples of this work appeared in Schlemmer's widely disseminated futuristic promotional brochure, Die Bühne des Bauhaus (1925). Performances functioned as showcases for student design work and always took place in a workshop environment, as the school never had the resources to construct anything resembling the utopian theatres imagined by Schlemmer, Andreas Weininger, Gropius, or Ferenc Molnár. The arrival of Xanti Schawinsky (1904–1979) in 1924 brought a touch of circus, music hall, and carnival to Bauhaus theatre projects; other students, such as Molnár, Gyula Pap (1899–1984), László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946), Lou Scheper (1901–1976), Kurt Schmidt, Joost Schmidt, Georg Teltscher, Karla Grosch, Lux Feininger, and Werner Siedhoff brought an extraordinary range of specialization in different areas of the fine arts. Music for Bauhaus productions was often the work of the Bauhauskapelle, a student orchestra employing the usual gongs and drums but also saxophones, wood flutes, banjos, a trombone, a clarinet, a trumpet, an accordion, a piano, and even a revolver.
Though he had a lifelong preoccupation with dance, Schlemmer maintained only very marginal contact with dance culture outside the Bauhaus, and his thinking about bodily movement was neither precise, deep, nor even innovative. He assumed that the interest of a bodily movement depended almost entirely on the visual context, the scenic design. Schlemmer worked with Ellen Petz on an adaptation of The Nutcracker in Dresden (1928) but was not at all happy with the result. Gret Palucca visited the Bauhaus for a concert and demonstration in 1928, but this event led to nothing significant. Otherwise, Schlemmer seemed content to work (1927–1928) with Manda van Kreibig (1901–1990), ballet mistress at Darmstadt and student of Duncan, Bode, Laban, and Wigman, on devising movements for dance pieces. In 1928 Gropius left the Bauhaus, and his successor, Hannes Meyer, sought to move the school toward a more overtly left-wing political position. Schlemmer's politically ambiguous "formalism" brought him into intensifying tension with Meyer and many other teachers at the school, so in 1929 he accepted a teaching position in Breslau. When the Nazis came to power, Schlemmer's art faced severe reproach, and he spent the last decade of his life in painful isolation in Stuttgart.
The work most strongly associated with the Bauhaus theatre program, and Schlemmer's most important theatrical project, was The Triadic Ballet . The piece underwent several transformations over a period of twenty years (1912–1932), with major revisions or revivals in 1923, 1926, 1929, and 1932, and it was the impetus for numerous subsidiary projects and experiments by Schlemmer and other Bauhaus artists. Yet the piece transcended the Bauhaus, for Schlemmer's work on it preceded his involvement with the Bauhaus by ten years, and when he premiered The Triadic Ballet in Paris in
1932, he had been gone from the Bauhaus for four years. However, Schlemmer's association with the Bauhaus was decisive in shaping the identity of the piece; Scheper has expertly described the not always congenial tension between Schlemmer's modernism and that favored by the Bauhaus administration.
The Triadic Ballet began life in 1912 as an experimental collaboration between Schlemmer and a pair of dancers with the Stuttgart Court Theatre, Albert Burger and Elsa Hötzel, who had studied under Dalcroze at Hellerau. It hardly developed independently of established theatre institutions, although developments in modern dance culture apparently had little impact on Schlemmer, judging by the pervasive lack of reference to them in his letters and diaries. But the premiere, in Stuttgart, did not occur for another ten years, with the original pair of dancers as the stars. During the Bauhaus years, the piece mutated under the pressure of new collaborations. Paul Hindemith wrote "mechanical" music for the 1926 production at Donauschingen, and after that the piece appeared in a popular revue format in Frankfurt and Berlin. By then the dance was famous enough to spawn a gallery exhibit in Central European cities. As the piece grew older, it became shorter; once an evening-long event, it wound up featured on a program of modernist works. Finally, in 1932 the piece went to Paris as part of an international dance competition promoting the restoration of elite, high cultural glory to ballet.
In spite of its title, Schlemmer never considered the piece ballet in any conventional sense—it was always for him a modern kind of pantomime. It was modern perhaps because of the mutability of its aesthetic identity; it could migrate from a radical-experimental to a popular to a high cultural institutional context, and this capacity depended on the generic ambiguity of the work. On the one hand, according to a diary entry of 30 September 1922, the ballet "flirted with lightness without falling into grotesquerie" and strove to "dematerialize the body without destroying it through occultism"; on the other hand, it revived the Dionysian ecstatic origin of dance but did so under the terms of a "final form" of "Apollonian strictness" (OSI 96–97). But this vaguely defined generic ambiguity entailed rather specific, abstract formal relations between aesthetic components. And although The Triadic Ballet attracted attention throughout Europe, its impact on theatrical practice was very small, confined almost entirely to the tiny Bauhaus program for theatre, although graduates of the school certainly found opportunities in mainstream institutions. Perhaps Schlemmer's greatest contribution lay not in producing any particular piece but in rethinking the process by which dance does its work.
With The Triadic Ballet, Schlemmer introduced an unprecedented degree of abstraction into performance aesthetics. More precisely, he sought to invest dance with the same power of abstraction that modernism had dis-
covered was possible for the painted image. For Schlemmer, the meaning of performance depended on an appreciation of formal relations between abstract categories of aesthetic experience, such as color, shape, and pattern; it was not a matter of constructing characters or correspondences between imaginary actions and real conditions outside the theatre. Schlemmer composed "texts" for theatre from lists of formal elements that, when recombined, were the basis of performed action. This aesthetic entailed a perception of the performance space as a grid that could unitize formal elements according to a unique, mysterious system of geometry, a "symphonic-architectonic" ideology, in that the value or meaning of theatrical action derived from "the pleasure in the play of forms, colors, and materials" (DS 35). In The Triadic Ballet, for example, a triangular principle of organization dominated: the piece contained three sections, or "series" ("Yellow," "Rose," and "Black"), each requiring three dancers (two men and a woman), whose movements operated in relation to a dynamically structured trinity of costume, dance, and music; this trinity, in turn, functioned dynamically in relation to the spatial trinity of height, depth, and width, which embraced the trinity of basic forms (triangle, circle, quadrangle) and basic colors (red, blue, yellow)—all these relations accommodated by eighteen costumes and twelve dances.
This "geometrization" of performance was an initial step toward a total mechanization of theatre; indeed, Schlemmer, in collaboration with other Bauhaus artists, contemplated plans for large-scale machine theatres and robotized "plays of forms," none of which, unfortunately, ever came to fruition. Diary entry, April 1926: "No whining about mechanization, instead, joy over precision!" (OSI 183). Indeed, the three transformative "emblems of our time" were abstraction, mechanization, and technological innovation (OS 17). For Schlemmer, this optimism in regard to the salvational potential of abstraction and technology was always suffused with mysticism. No matter how abstract the performance became, the human figure (though not the body) remained the central, dominating image in the play of forms, for it was the most powerful and artistic signifier of immediacy (DS 25). Schlemmer consistently treated the human figure as a geometrical phenomenon, not as the site of a "character" or, as he put it, "psychological-literary" values. In a 1915 diary entry, he noted various geometrical properties of the body:
The quadrangle of the breast cavity,
The circle of the belly,
Cylinder of the throat,
Ball of the elbow joint, knee, shoulder, bones,
Ball of the head, the eyes,
Triangle of the nose,
The line connecting heart and brain, . . .
In 1930 he explained that human figural art lies "in the realm of the doll-like. For the abstraction of the human form . . . creates an image in a higher sense; it creates, not a natural human being, but an artistic being; it creates . . . a symbol of human form—In all early high cultures . . . the human form is remote from the naturalistic image, but close to the lapidary symbol form: the idol, the totem, the doll" (OSI 231). This geometry of the body was exposed above all by mask and costume, not by any system of movement. Whereas Dalcroze strove toward a costumeless, naked identity for modern humanity, Schlemmer perceived that "costume is everything" in modern theatre (DS 27). Many commentators on The Triadic Ballet felt that the extraordinary costumes—by turns mysterious, bizarre, and enchanting—were the only significant feature of the piece (Figure 36). Some dance critics believed the costumes merely disguised very conventional choreography. Indeed, in spite of Scheper's meticulous efforts to reconstruct the dance from abundant visual and written documentation, it is still quite difficult to see how the piece works as a kinetic event (33–58). Even Gerhard Bohner's 1977 reconstruction seemed to lack a convincing organization of movement. Schlemmer himself thought the greatest problem with the piece was its failure to inspire any music appropriate for it; before Hindemith composed a mechanical organ score for it, Schlemmer had used an eccentric mix of music by several modern and unmodern composers (Mozart, Haydn, Bossi, Debussy), and he even considered circus marches and popular tunes (235). Not even Scheper can explain why Schlemmer's radical image of the human form could not awaken an equally radical complement of music or movement. Perhaps the designs seemed to mock any complementation with music or movement; the human figure made fun of the human body, and dance became a deprecation of the body.
Schlemmer's notion of costume was total insofar as he regarded all aspects of scenography as categories of mask. He strongly resisted the established theatrical practice of treating costume, scenery, and lighting as the work of separate designers. This idea led to an even more modern one: that a designer could initiate theatrical works and become their author. Schlemmer designed many productions of literary works and established ballets, but he was never happier than when he was fashioning his own "text" out of the principles defining his mysterious geometric system, and for this reason he was utterly unique among modern dance creators. To this day, designers everywhere seem to require a text or scenario created by someone else to justify their contribution to performance. Schlemmer, however, saw scenery, lighting, movement, and sound as extensions of costume and the human figure—that is, he saw all forms as masks (although, unlike Schreyer, he did not see masks in terms of core forms). It was a tendency of Teutonic mysticism to perceive being itself as something perpetually masked, veiled, enshrouded, without form. No matter how naked the
body appeared, it was always a mask, hiding something within it that had no form: an emotion, an experience of the world, a mood.
Expressionism sought to objectify this inner world of emotion. Schreyer attempted to create a modern dance theatre oriented toward a superabstract mysticism, with an utterly strange human form as its core. His image of humanity was no less radical and abstract than Schlemmer's, but the cultic-ritual obscurity into which he and his adepts retreated violently estranged him from the rest of the Bauhaus. Schreyer simply did not believe that technology was the basis for connecting art and spiritual renewal or for establishing an emancipatory condition of modernity. The Triadic Ballet indicated to Gropius that Schlemmer understood how technology imposed a classical restraint or sobriety of form on the construction of emotion and abstraction. But Schlemmer was never really happy in the Bauhaus. A theatre curriculum was expensive, and Bauhaus theatre productions invariably stirred up political controversies that made it difficult for Gropius to raise funds and subsidies for the academy. Today one constantly encounters the inclination to regard formalist abstraction as a strategy for transcending politics, but in the Bauhaus era the reduction of theatre to a play of forms and a geometric abstraction of the body awakened extreme intensities of political feeling. Formalist performance may have constructed highly ambiguous, uncertain, "mystical-fantastic" emotions, but it did not fail to produce an impassioned attitude toward its ambiguities. For this reason, theatre education within the Bauhaus never possessed much more than a marginalized, workshop status. In a letter to his lifelong friend Otto Meyer-Amden in December 1925, Schlemmer described his estrangement from the dominant atmosphere of the Bauhaus and his awareness of the limitations of abstractionism:
The artistic atmosphere here is so cosmically remote from everything that is not actual, not immediate, not trendy . . . Dadaism, circus, variety, jazzband, tempo, cinema, America, airplane, auto. That is the real situation here. In painting: no subjects. "Abstract" = no subjects, quite demanded by the extreme power bloc of Kandinsky and Moholy. Here I am someone from yesterday, or perhaps a dissident, because I paint "classically." The general course of art is "reactionary." . . . The amusing, the dadaistic, the mechanical, cinema, etc. are the reality. One sneers at every feeling, sentiment, indeed at anything really serious (OSI 157–158).
One can now even suggest that the abstractionism pursued not only by The Triadic Ballet but by the Bauhaus generally disclosed a profound anxiety toward the body and the irrational, emotional dynamics emanating from deep inside it. Bauhaus abstractionism transcended the body rather than revealing it or developing perception of it. When abstract eccentricity replaces expressivity as the dominant sign of modernity, the resulting image
produces many handsome art books but not performances that bear up to repeated viewing.
Nevertheless, within these constraints Schlemmer made a further major contribution to modernist theatre: he proposed a revision of formal theatre education no less radical than his notion of the designer as author of theatrical performances. Schlemmer's Bauhaus curriculum detached the study of theatre from the study of literary drama, theatrical productions, or theatrical artists. It developed within an experimental, laboratory milieu in which abstract, formal elements of theatrical performance were presumed to have a powerful value independent of any specific literary or historical context and thus became the object of systematic investigation. Schlemmer divided theatre curriculum into three general areas of study: 1) scenic composition; 2) scenic technology; and 3) linguistic, musical, and gymnastic-dance studies. Each of these categories contained within it the study of aesthetic devices deemed particular to theatre, and study itself was considered virtually synonymous with experimental performance on specially designed "research stages" (Versuchsbühne ). For example, the curtain as a visual device peculiar to theatre could become the subject of various experimental performances exposing the variations in meaning signified when the curtain acted in certain ways in relation to particular qualities of light, material, color, sound, or bodily movement before and behind it. Schlemmer and a brilliant group of students and collaborators performed all sorts of experiments to isolate the signifying power of specific theatrical devices—such as costume, gesture, mask, choric movement, shadows, projections, puppets, footlights, props, and ramps—always in relation to the signifying power of a more abstract category of form—material, shape, color, geometric configuration, sound, size. The experimental group did not seek a context (a literary text) to justify this mode of performance; rather, the modern theatre artist constructed a context around a specific device or element of interest.
These experiments culminated in an astonishing series of performances in 1929 of a twelve-piece program that revealed the intrinsic dramatic interest of tensions between forms and materials: Glass Dance (solo female), Metal Dance (solo female), Staff Dance (solo female or male), Gestural Dance (three men), Mask Chorus (seven men and women), Screen Dance (three men), Box Dance (three men), Space Dance (three men), Ring Dance (two women and one man), Form Dance (three men), Sketch (one women, three men), and Women's Dance (three men) (Figures 4 and 37–38). Piano and percussion instruments accompanied the dancers. Schlemmer attempted to "score" the brief dances in the manner of Schreyer, but in their weird mask-costumes, all the dancers had to do was move to stimulate curiosity—a point that did not go unnoticed by critics of the time (DS 206–207). Most interesting in this regard are rehearsal photographs taken of the Women's Dance by a Bauhaus student, Naftali Avnon (1910–1977). These give an
idea of the eerie, somewhat stilted movement the doll-like "women" (actually men) made in their extravagant masks and costumes, which look like Oriental parodies of nineteenth-century fashions. Even more interesting, the snapshots reveal the power of the dancers to make the photographer move, to make him get closer to and farther from the strange creatures, look at them from odd angles or in different configurations of light. However, Schlemmer did not want the pictures published because they did not give an adequate sense of the space in which the dancers appeared and because they looked spontaneous or amateurish, not like genuine artworks. He preferred the posed photographs of the piece taken by Umbo (Otto Umbehr), which, although quite interesting in themselves, do not convey the idea of a dance (Faber, Tanzfoto, 79–83).
For Schlemmer, theatre education was inseparable from the experimental knowledge derived from performance itself rather than from history or dramatic literature. A modern, emancipatory theatre must derive from a new system of theatre education, a system that saw no great value in preparing students to preserve theatrical traditions dominated by reverence for the enduring authority of texts and by humility over the transitory authority of performance. Moreover, Schlemmer's experiments and the documentation on them indicated that modern study of performance did not mean the study of particular productions; it meant the study of the devices and codes that constitute the context for any specific performance (text). From this perspective, dance became a play of forms, an activation of space that ultimately needed no bodies, no dancers. It was the image of a machine-idol.