Although the solo dance was perhaps the strongest medium for projecting a distinctive attitude toward the body, it lacked power to expose insightful attitudes about relations between bodies. Such attitudes never escape affiliation with attitudes toward sexual difference, sexuality, and erotic orientation; in spite of occasional modernist efforts (such as the Triadic Ballet ) to construct an abstract, genderless human body, no convincing justification has yet emerged for the belief that the sex of the dancing body "doesn't matter" in exposing relations between bodies. Modern dance clearly expanded conditions of freedom for the female body, but it did little to undermine the perception that dance was a feminine art and a culture overwhelmingly populated by female bodies. The dearth of male dancers in the art made it almost impossible for many female dancers to explore in a satisfactory manner their unique attitudes toward sexual difference and erotic feeling. The solo format allowed them to dramatize this powerful absence and to disclose the redemptive beauty of moving alone. In a sense, the solo dancer's partner was the spectator, whose sexual identity was often ambiguous—even more so in relation to solo dancers than to many all-female group dances in the schools. The solo dance exposed a relation between the passive, desiring body of a critical spectator and the active, desired body of a performer: the solo dance established the desirability of a body vis-à-vis the desiring body of the spectator.
That the structure of desire entailed greater complexities than the passive-active dichotomy indicated was obvious even to the solo dancers, particularly those who ventured into realms of the grotesque, the bizarre, and the tragic, where desirability asserted itself with less certainty and desire required more active articulation than in conventional contexts. But such ambiguities could scarcely modify the perception that dance was a
feminine mode of expression. In a 1913 comment on the "metaphysics of dance," Paul Hatvani claimed that men find their identities through action that builds representation, art, images of ideas, whereas women find their identities, their being (Dasein ), in "the dance—the only expressive form of womanliness," a form that has no intellectual significance. "I saw a woman dance a dance which signified 'God': a smile lay on her cheeks. . . . For the true woman every movement is dance and in every movement she gives something of herself to a beloved" (24–27). No doubt this sort of thinking, which is as prevalent today as it was in 1913, inspired Mary Wigman to remark in response to a 1926 "question about the dance as an expression of sensuality: 'I envision only our aim. My students must give such an impression that every man should enthusiastically call out: "I would not like to be married to any one of them!"'" (MWB 96). But such comments merely reinforced the perception that dance was a zone of signification wherein women made up all the rules and were free of competition from or even for men. If anything, Wigman's remark called greater attention to the cryptic aura of female homoeroticism emanating from various schools and their groups (including Loheland, Günther, Hellerau-Laxenburg, Tels, and Wigman) that consistently fostered a hostile attitude toward the inclusion of male students.
The strongest attempt to cultivate the idea of the new male dancer came from Laban and his disciples, but the rationale they employed was not altogether persuasive. In Die Schönheit (22/2, 1926, 69–81), Wilhelm Burghardt, a Laban disciple, proposed a theory of "Der männliche Tanzer," asserting that, due to physiological differences, serious male dance differed significantly from female dance. He criticized Hans W. Fischer's Weiberbuch (1924) contention, very similar to Hatvani's, that dance, as the essence of feminine being, feminized and diminished the unique beauty of the male body. Burghardt pointed out that in other historical and cultural contexts men had dominated the art of dance and that even in many European cultures the construction of a manly, warrior identity depended on displaying skill at dancing. Recent geniuses of German culture, such as Goethe, Beethoven, and Nietzsche, showed no fear of dance, and Beethoven's desire to take turbulent walks during thunderstorms was evidence of a male mode of dancing. As Burghardt saw it, the industrialization of European civilization since the French Revolution had intensified sexual difference in regard to the coding and display of bodily movement. What inhibited men from becoming dancers was the misguided notion that men should move in the same way as women. Rather, men should derive their sense of dance movement from "natural" sources of male action such as felling a tree, pulling a rope, or pushing a wagon. Yet photographs accompanying this and other articles in the special Laban issue consistently showed nude men and women performing the same types of movement and never gave the impres-
sion that a presumed sexual identify for movement somehow compromised the sexual identity of the body.
In any case, male dancing within the Laban cult remained confined largely to lay movement choirs, and although some of the Laban schools produced a few memorable male teacher-choreographers (Jooss, Gleisner, Weidt, Keith), one clearly could not get men to pursue serious careers as dancers by arguing that dance could elevate the esteem in which other men held them. The key to getting men to dance lay with women: men were much more likely to dance in response to a desiring voice of women than to some sort desirable or desiring voice of men. Hertha Feist (Berlin), Helmi Nurk (Bremen), and Margarethe Schmidts (Essen) probably enjoyed more success in recruiting male students than any other schools, but on the whole women in the modern dance movement remained quite reticent about expressing a desire to dance with men or to see men dancing with women, and they did little even to acknowledge that the absence of men in artistic performance was a problem. Consequently, men with strong dance talent preferred to pursue opportunities in the admittedly moribund world of ballet, where female dancers responded much more favorably to the presence of male dance prowess.
Male desire to dance manifested itself much more clearly in the realm of social dance, which, especially after the introduction in the prewar years of modernist forms of social dance such as the fox trot, tango, shimmy, samba, turkey trot, Boston, apache, and grizzly, became increasingly a zone of opportunity for aligning the display of sex appeal through bodily movement with expanded social mobility. The fantastic popularity of the tango, introduced around 1907, did much to undermine the authority of the waltz as the optimum dance for idealizing bodily relations between male and female. The interest of the upper class in escaping the nostalgic lyricism and decorative modesty of the waltz precipitated a curious interaction between high and low culture (where most modern social dances originated), a process that rapidly evolved in favor of upper-class tastes. Social pair dancing established codes of conduct that did not feminize the male, who could always expect to "lead" his partner. Even in dances where the woman took the lead, as was sometimes the case with the tango or the fishtail, the man did not suffer stigmatization, for by taking the lead the woman presumably expressed an even stronger desire to dance with a man. Mastery of social dances showed quite dramatically the extent to which a man was sensitive to a woman's body and inspired a woman's sensitivity to a man's body.
Moreover, mastery of social dance skills seemed tied to the cultivation of cosmopolitan masculinity and a modern image of the "gentleman." Koebner and Leonard's Das Tanz-Brevier (1913), with an initial run of 20,000 copies, not only explained, with the help of numerous elegant photographs and drawings, the correct execution and semiotic significance of various
social dances, it situated social dancing within an elaborate, aristocratic, and sport-tinged code of superior male urbanity and competitiveness. Koebner described this code in even greater detail in Der Gentleman (1913), a suave guidebook dealing with the aesthetic of smoking jackets, gloves, valets, monocles, and hand kisses, as well as proper bearing at tea dances or the performance of rags and tangos. These works implied that modern social pair dancing no longer belonged primarily to the somewhat sleazy, desperate, lower-class environment of taverns and dance halls described only a few years earlier by Ostwalt in Berliner Tanzlokale (1905) and the fourth volume of Das Berliner Dirnentum (1906). Interestingly, impulses toward "sexy" bodily movement and display in that milieu did not allow male and female dancers to get close to each other, or even touch, a situation quite similar to most rock dancing today.
After the war, jazz music increasingly displaced folk music in shaping the identity of social dance forms. Jazz-oriented social dancing took on the characteristics of a sport; according to Heinz Pollack in 1924, a dance, like a doubles tennis match, disclosed not the erotic or social relations between the partners but their compatibility as performers: "[T]he new dances . . . are only dances and not masquerades" of sublimated erotic "wishes and drives" ("Erziehische," 124). Pollack had already designated social dancing as a sign of powerful social transformation in Die Revolution des Gesellschaftstanzes (1922), but Rudolph Lothar insisted that jazz worked to expose rather than sublimate the expression of erotic desire, for "the rhythm [of jazz] is so to speak the iron cage in which the noise of the primeval forest becomes adapted to the salon . . . and the rhythm pulls one into voluptuous depths in which no sound and no light from quotidian life penetrates" (88). The confusion inspired by the erotic ambiguity of social dancing led August Traber-Amiel, previously the author of a comprehensive instruction manual, to propose, in the pamphlet-sized Der Tanz als Weg zur neuen Kultur (1924), that anxiety over the erotic significance of social dancing would diminish only when social dancing established itself not as a sport or recreation but as an art in which superior mastery of technique produced a "deep" exploration of the emotional currents binding male and female bodies together. Types of music or movement were always less important than the quality of the partners' responses to each other. Nevertheless, as Leonard aphorized in Tanzsport Almanach 1924 , people with different tastes in music often marry, but then they are not able to dance together (95).
At any rate, jazz became identified with an unsystematic effort to expand the emancipatory significance of social dance, even if that meant provoking greater and greater uncertainty regarding the extent to which social dances affirmed or undermined sexual morality. Jazz-driven social dancing became an important, ever-expanding sector of the German entertainment industry and probably an even more pervasive sign than modern dance itself of the
modern hunger for ecstasy (Eichstedt 37–72). Despite copious efforts to produce their own, unique jazz music, the Germans persisted in viewing both jazz and the new forms of social dance as imports, manifestations of foreign bodily codes. Though German popular composers showed much inventiveness in modernizing older, folk-derived dances such as the tango, the waltz, and the mazurka, their success in producing jazz music that competed well with American tunes was limited, to put it mildly; in the huge "TanzSzene Berlin" series (1925–1934) of recordings compiled by Karl-Heinrich Jordan, for example, numerous dance orchestras professing to offer jazz tunes show a curious inability to escape the relentless "oompah" of march or polka rhythms. The German enemies of jazz were numerous and grandiose in their apocalyptic condemnations of it as a symptom of decadence, addiction, racial impurity, sexual immorality, capitalist amorality, Jewish morbidity, Bolshevik propaganda, or animalistic submission to "low," uncultured instincts (Schröder 329–365). But because its rhythms and harmonies urged the body to display mastery of "sexy" movements, jazz strengthened the perception that social dancing was the most overt expression of female desire to dance with a male, and as long as this desire asserted itself with ever-greater confidence, men had strong incentives to become dancers.
Not surprisingly, then, in the realm of Ausdruckstanz, pair dancing between a male and a female amplified the value of the male dancer and dramatized female desire to dance with males. Indeed, expressionist pair dancing showed the power of this desire to produce art worth watching. Pair dancing performances were almost entirely done by a man and woman who formed their own tiny company to produce concerts featuring each other, for men appeared "effeminate" if they danced either alone or in a company overwhelmingly composed of females. Some pair dancers (Isa Zarifah and Fred van Hutten; Jan Trojanowsky and Frida Hess) apparently confined themselves to appearances in cabarets and nightclubs, and their work remains poorly documented. Even the work of more "serious" pair dancers is still frustratingly scant, despite their considerable popularity at the time; these included, in the 1920s, Ernst Matray and Katta Sterna (1897–1984), who later joined Trudi Schoop's company, and, in the 1930s, the ballet-trained Alexander von Swaine (1905–1990) in partnership with Alice Uhlen, then Darja Collin, then Lisa Czobel (b. 1906). Czobel also paired with Karl Bergeest, who eventually became her husband. Equally vague is the partnership between Ruth Abramowitsch and George Groke, which began in Berlin around 1930 and continued in Warsaw after 1933. Pair dancing on the concert stage was extremely rare in Germany before 1914, and hardly any documentation of it exists before that time beyond Pavlova's occasional numbers with a male ballet dancer, whose function was simply to heighten her own idealized desireability. Of course, the pairing of
Olga Desmond and Adolf Salge in Berlin in 1908 provoked much interest because of Desmond's nudity in performing dances inspired by ancient Greek statuary; but, having aroused so much curiosity, the couple declined to continue their partnership.
In Stuttgart, Elsa Hötzel and Albert Burger may have been active as early as 1912, but their work remains completely obscure. In 1913 the German artist Alastair (1887–1969), soon to become famous (or notorious) for his exquisitely lurid illustrations of literary works and contemporary personalities, performed "chimerical" dances with a Russian woman called Katerina in the Paris mansion of Baroness Ilse Deslandes. According to Gabriele d'Annunzio, Alastair performed "Gothic dances" in an "azure tunic brocaded with gold," then moved gravely in the violet robes of a bishop while "bronze antelopes and other nimble animals of the Far East grazed in the carpets." Sinking into cushions, Katerina seemed a figure of wax with enameled eyes, but her legs and ankles moved lightly and delicately, "like a serpent twitching its tail in love or in wrath" (149). It was an eccentric soiree that apparently did not persuade Alastair to develop further his talent in this direction, but the strangely androgynous aura he cast reappeared in the work of other male pair dancers, including Hans Wiener, who was active in Gera (1925–1926) as a modernist theatre choreographer before teaming up (1928) with Ottilie Foy in New York. Photos of his Ethiopian and Hindu dances convey an impression of florid, decorative male beauty (Martin, "New Dance").
Helge Peters-Pawlinin (1903–1981) perhaps displayed an even stronger bisexual aesthetic. He had a long career as a dancer, choreographer, and costume designer, beginning with the Rita Sacchetto ballet company, then moving on to the Lotte Fassbaender company, the Rhea Glus company, and the Ellen Petz state opera company in Dresden (1927) before running his own Romantische Ballett in Munich from 1936 to 1943. After the war he concentrated on choreographing large-scale ballets with dark and somewhat perverse themes, such as Der Student von Prag (1950), with Harald Kreutzberg, the controversial Abraxas (1948), and the rock opera Mixed Media (1973). As a dancer, however, Peters-Pawlinin displayed such ambiguity of sexual identity that he scarcely needed a female partner: often within the same dance he shifted abruptly from "masculine" virility to "feminine" undulation; in 1928 photos of him, both his costumes and his movements are so sexually ambiguous that it seems as if he were his own partner (Peter). Male bisexuality of this sort was not an uncommon feature of pair dancing concerts, for the male and female dancers did not perform all the dances together and did as many solos as they did pair dances. This convention served to accommodate more than costume changes: it allowed the male dancer an opportunity to display a solitary consciousness of his divided sexuality.
Lo Hesse and Joachim Von Seewitz
Lo Hesse and Joachim von Seewitz were active in Munich and Berlin between 1916 and 1920. Their dances relied heavily on extravagantly exotic costumes designed mostly by the Munich expressionist artist Walter Schnackenberg (1880–1961), who also produced several charming art deco figurines of Lo Hesse (Schnackenberg; Arwas 214–216). The couple favored fantastically Oriental, Venetian, Spanish, or rococo costumes that had the effect of making dance a sign of ultrarefined luxury and exquisitely privileged voluptuousness. This linking of dance to fashion and fashionableness did not escape criticism. Hildenbrandt condemned Lo Hesse for appearing in fashion magazine poses behind the wheel of her Mercedes or with her sleek greyhound, and he deprecated the couple as "female and effeminate mannikins for a refined masquerade wardrobe" (Briefe, 50–51). However, Elegante Welt (6/1, 3 January 1917, 4–5) praised the "orgy of beauty" and "inclination toward the bizarre" created by the couple, as well as their lack of sentimentality. Seewitz was self-taught as a dancer, but the journal compared him favorably with the great Russian male dancers. In 1920, Ola Alsen, writing for the same journal (9/1, 7 January 1920, 7), maintained that he was "undoubtedly" the greatest of all male German dancers. Virtually all commentaries presented Lo Hesse as the decidedly inferior dancer of the pair. Nikolaus suggested that Hesse's sense of bodily rhythm was too measured and constrained, too lacking in boldness, whereas Seewitz, despite his elaborate costumes, moved with great freedom and showed enchanting skill in shifting abruptly from one rhythm to another, although all his movements seemed suffused with lyrical "boyishness" or undulant femininity; Hesse strove to keep up with Seewitz, but she was incapable of dramatizing any serious idea of "striving" (50, 74–76). Török in 1918 supposed that Hesse disguised her lack of talent behind a luxurious wardrobe, but he lauded Seewitz as an example of "pure fluidity," a dancer who almost seemed not to have a body (11).
Apparently Hesse achieved more satisfactory performance when she danced with Seewitz than when she danced her solos, but the two of them performed only a couple of dances together, the Moszkowski Masquerade and Weber's Invitation to the Dance, and these never delighted as much as Seewitz's solos. His most significant piece was probably Heliogabal (1919), a "terrifyingly beautiful masterpiece of pantomime" in which he evoked the perverse sun-worship ritual of the homosexual Roman emperor (KTP 4, 1920, 120). Here he displayed his effeminacy with stunning boldness: he swathed himself in a dark, satiny robe, which he opened up and discarded to reveal a "super-slender, quite lean" body decorated with pearl necklaces, earrings, slippers, bracelets, lipstick, mascara, a glittering blouse, and a gorgeous miniskirt. All of his movements were feminine insofar as
they consisted of serpentine undulations and narcissistic basking in his own refulgence. Imperial and cosmic power seemed concentrated in a "terrifyingly" ambiguous image of maleness. Seewitz also performed, in Pierrot costume, the "dancing fool" to Debussy's music and a "grotesque waltz in black" to music by Chopin, but his main achievement was to make the presumed "effeminacy" of the male dancer a more disturbing source of power than the term implies. However, he achieved this effect probably because he chose such a weak female dancer as his partner.
Walter Holdt and Lavinia Schulz
Knowledge of the astonishingly bizarre and tragic art of Walter Holdt and Lavinia Schulz is obscure and largely based on the rediscovery in 1986 of artifacts deposited in a Hamburg museum back in 1925 (Jockel 55–75). The artistic power within this couple apparently lay with the woman, for virtually nothing is known of Holdt. After suffering from a severe ear disease, Schulz (1896–1924) studied ballet, painting, and music in Berlin, where as early as 1913 she came into contact with Herwarth Walden's Sturm circle of expressionists. Through this circle she became friends with Lothar Schreyer, who invited her, "my first student, a genial person with violent passion," to perform, apparently nude, in his wild production of August Stramm's Sancta Susanna in 1918 (LS 197). When Schreyer, disillusioned by his struggle to form an avant-garde theatre in Berlin, moved to his native Hamburg in 1919, Schulz followed him. It is not known whether she met Holdt there or whether they had already met by this time. In Berlin Schulz was a costumer and seamstress for Schreyer's early Kampfbühne productions, including the 1920, Edda-inspired Skirnismól; Holdt played Skirnir in a heavy, robotically abstract costume but seemed to dance in it without difficulty.
Schulz married Holdt in April 1920, and the couple soon drifted away from Schreyer, for, as Schulz explained in a note, "Expressionism is not a solution; expressionism works with machines and industry." Schulz and Holdt led a fanatically austere existence in a bizarre expressionist cellar apartment without a floor, bed, or hot water. They slept on straw and dedicated themselves religiously to the construction of their strange mask dances, wearing gray tights during the day so that they could work on the dances as they worked on the masks and costumes. The couple became obsessed with recovering an archaic Aryan-Nordic identity free of Jewish-Christian contamination. According to H. H. Stuckenschmidt, who was their friend, Schulz craved hardship: "Poverty, hunger, cold, Nordic landscape with snow, ice, and catastrophes: that was her world, and with Holdt she found it" (36). The couple put on only a few dance concerts between 1920 and 1924, but these were among the strangest produced by the whole Weimar dance culture, and although Hamburg audiences responded with
bewilderment, critics tended to recognize a powerful imagination. The marriage, however, experienced intense strain. The couple had great difficulty earning any money and longed to find a way to live without it; Holdt apparently possessed a character that was not entirely trustworthy, and Schulz was violently jealous, perpetually terrified that Holdt would betray her for another woman. In 1923 she gave birth to a son, but in this last year of the great inflation she and Holdt suffered from continual hunger. In June 1924 police discovered their bodies in the bizarre cellar apartment, with the baby between them. Schulz had shot Holdt to death, then killed herself.
Husband-wife dance pairs are quite rare on the stage; in the case of Schulz and Holdt the concept of marriage entailed a peculiarly deep implication in that it also referred to a haunting marriage of dance and costume. The couple created dances and costumes together and at the same time, so that bodily movement and the masking of the body arose from the same impulse. Schulz was a highly gifted artist whose drawings and sketches invariably startle the viewer with their hard primitivism and demonic abstraction, but Holdt assumed much responsibility for the design of the costumes and masks; for most of the costumes deposited in Hamburg, it is not possible to assign definite authorship to Schulz. The mask portions consisted mostly of fantastically reptilian, insectoid, or robotic heads, whereas the rest of the costumes comprised eccentric patchworks of design, color, and material to convey the impression of bodies assembled out of contradictory structures. One costume consisted of a white veil draped over a nude female body, topped by a large mask shaped like a triangular birdcage. To develop the "abstract organicism" of the mask-costumes, the couple built their designs out of diverse materials: wood, leather, rope, wire, metal, canvas, cloth, yarn, clay, cardboard, and gypsum. The costumes were often quite heavy and difficult to move in, because Schulz believed that art should be hard, an expression of struggle; however, all of the costumes disclose a quality of cartoonish, demonic grotesquerie rather than frightening ferocity (Figure 52). The couple gave the costumes eccentric names, as if they were mysterious pets: "Tobaggan," "Springvieh," "Technik," and so on. Yet the designs never achieved the level of abstraction reached by Schreyer or Schlemmer, partly because Schulz and Holdt cultivated a zealously ecological consciousness that made them associate abstraction with redemptive organic forms of nature and the animal world but also because the couple had a more refined feeling for bodily movement than Schreyer or Schlemmer did.
Schulz repudiated the ballet aesthetic she had studied in Berlin. In 1921 she published her notation of the dance Mann und tote Frau, using a graphic "scoring" technique similar to what Schreyer had done for Kreuzigung (1920), although Schulz's scoring was more precise and lucid. This Tanzschrift indicated a dance style built out of varying intensities of creeping, stamping, squatting, crouching, kneeling, arching, striding, lunging,
and leaping in mostly diagonal-spiraling patterns across the performance space, with both arms thrusting or grasping and the whole occasionally punctuated by pauses. It is not clear what the costumes or music were for this dance, but it is evident that the movement was uniquely expressive in dramatizing the violent struggle of a female body to achieve central, dominant control of the performance space and its emptiness. As for music, the couple worked with H. H. Stuckenschmidt, who composed a "dadaistic" piece for Springvieh (1922) and arranged "trivial music" for the ecstatic Mein Blut (1922) and Toboggan (1921). For Ungegeheuer vom Sirius (1922), a contribution to a Hamburg "astral dance show" involving several artists, Stuckenschmidt composed a shimmy; Schulz and Holdt "dashed in wild rotation; between them a star nebula of Loheland girls, swirling to the perimeter, their raised arms a wave full of delicate arpeggios" (Hans Fischer, Hamburger, 265). Jockel regards the couple as an example of the self-destructive fate that awaits people who live so completely for their art that they become mortally estranged from life (75). The Schulz-Holdt dance aesthetic does seem to embed a powerful masochism, not only in the marriage between dancers but in the equally passionate marriage of mask and movement. But the dances of this strange couple were also a kind of bizarre, expressionist demonization of marriage itself, the most grotesquely touching critique of pairing to appear in the whole empire of German dance culture.
The Falke Sisters
Female pair dancing enjoyed special appeal because it dramatized competing models of femininity and exposed conditions under which one model of femininity dominated or achieved equilibrium with another. The homoerotic dimension to this sort of pair dancing was not negligible in supporting its appeal. For this reason, perhaps, it is extremely difficult to find any examples of male pair dancing, although Kurt Jooss did experiment with male duets in larger dances. Female pairs appeared more frequently in the period 1916 to 1921, and Mila Cirul danced with her sister Elia in Paris as late as 1935. The three Wiesenthal sisters were popular in the prewar years, but when Else and Berta formed a separate pair (1908–1914) they achieved only modest success. Ruth Schwarzkopf (1900–?) danced with her sister Isabella (1899–1918) before turning to the solo mode, and in Vienna, Mila Cirul formed a pair with Ellen Tels in 1919–1920. During the premiere exhibition in Berlin of two movies in 1916, Valeska Gert and Brigitta Riha, wife of the artist Erich Heckel, performed an intermezzo pair dance to Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk in which one dancer wore white and the other, clad in black, moved in "snakelike" fashion around her (FPV 29–30).
Perhaps the most interesting of the sister pairs was that comprising Gertrud (1890–1984) and Ursula (1895–1981) Falke. Their father, Ham-
burg poet Gustav Falke (1853–1916), encouraged them to pursue artistic vocations and introduced them to prominent figures of the Hamburg cultural elite. After studying with Dalcroze in Hellerau (1911–1912), Gertrud established her own Dalcroze-oriented school in Hamburg in 1913 and the same year presented, with her students, her first public concert, which received much acclaim. Ursula remained uncertain of her artistic direction, drifting tentatively into music, painting, and sculpture, and she was grateful when her sister invited her to study dance at the new school and eventually become a director of it. For some time the Falke family had experienced intensifying financial difficulties, which exerted great pressure on the sisters to alleviate the situation.
At Hans Brandenburg's suggestion, the sisters went with Laura Oesterreich to Ascona in summer 1914 to study Laban's ideas about bodily movement, but they found the atmosphere there uncongenial ("too technical"). Not until 1916, after the death of their father, did the Falkes begin performing dances together. They enjoyed considerable popularity between 1917 and 1919, making fifty appearances in ten German cities, but the critical response never escaped the tentativeness and reserve emanating from the sisters themselves. They consistently gave the impression of never giving more than enough to please, as if they danced entirely in response to a momentary external pressure rather than out of a powerful inner drive. They were beautiful women, tall, slender, and dark, and they made much of undulant, linear body movement, often on tiptoe, but they avoided any technical complexity and cultivated a restrained romanticism that reminded Brandenburg of the "nordic" music of Brahms (132). Peculiarly, they never attempted any productions with their students. In the solo portions of their concerts, Gertrud was apparently a more expressive dancer than Ursula, but they seemed strongest in the dances they performed together; in spite of Brandenburg's preference for their solo dances, their pair dances provoked far greater pleasure. In these they embodied a "ghostly life." For example, in Versunkene Kathedral (1918; music: Debussy) Ursula, clad in dark silky pants, moved as the shadow of her more radiant sister, whose short dress exposed her exquisite legs. The pair dances often dramatized a "darkness in darkness," with both sisters wearing dark garments and constructing languid arabesques and eerie mirror movements out of the delicate intertwining of their bodies. Ursula, though tinged with "genial dilettantism," disclosed a "morbid, languid decorativeness," a "mondainebizarre and capricious sense of movement" at the "edge of what is artistically possible." This contrasted well with Gertrud's soft smile, a fragile radiance slipping through the "nordic fog" (133–134).
The Falke sisters favored conservative-romantic music—Chopin, Schumann, Reger, Rachmaninov, Grieg—and elegantly decorative fantasy costumes designed by Doris Boekmann. The appeal of their aesthetic reached
its strongest intensity in 1920, when Mary Wigman, a friend from the Hellerau and Ascona days, invited them to assist her in the formation of a dance school at the Dresden Opera. But this plan fell apart when political intrigue at the opera prevented Wigman from receiving the anticipated appointment. Soon thereafter, the sisters began to move in separate directions, although in 1922 they did appear together on a special program in Hamburg that also featured Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt. Gertrud married a lawyer, Hermann Heller, in 1921 and settled in Leipzig, where he directed the Volkshochschule, but his work as an expert on administrative law required further moves to Berlin and Frankfurt. Because he was a Jewish socialist, he and Gertrud migrated to Madrid in 1933, and when Heller died in 1936, she settled in England, where she worked with Kurt Jooss at Dartington Hall. She devoted herself in later years to dance therapy instruction in Scotland and London, where she died.
Ursula sought to establish herself as a solo dancer; but this ambition proved difficult to attain because of her dark erotic life. She had long loved the sculptor Richard Luksch (1874–1936), under whom she had studied sculpture in 1914. She gave birth to his daughter in 1921 but she did not marry Luksch until 1923 because it took him until then to complete his divorce from his first wife. Because of his financial obligations to his previous wife and children, Luksch could not provide Ursula with the financial security she had craved since 1914. After the birth of her daughter she tried, unsuccessfully, to establish herself in the Berlin film industry. In 1925 she attempted to resurrect her career as a solo dancer by cultivating a more bizarre image. Luksch designed masks for three of her dances. In Der Prinz (1925) she wore a very androgynous white mask of vaguely Southeast Asian aspect, but her costume, which included dark, satiny pants, featured a vest with emphatically designated breasts (Figure 3). In Rosa (1926) her mask was that of a surprised little girl with ropelike, braided hair, reinforced by a very short, polka-dot dress. For Die weisse Frau (1925) she wore a white mask that was actually an eerie caricature of her own face; the rest of her body remained shrouded in a gauzy white cloak, so she moved like a tall, lean Gothic apparition.
Such effects, however, were not enough to sustain the interest of a reliable audience, for her sense of movement lacked dramatic power and always seemed governed by a sculpturesque perception of her body. By 1929 she had formed a partnership with another Hamburg dancer, Gertrud Zimmermann (1895–1962), and opened a new school that incorporated the theories of Laban, but this project was also a failure. In 1932 she and Zimmermann collaborated with Luksch on a most intriguing grotesque dance, Die grosse und die kleine Dummheit , which premiered at a Hamburg arts festival. The piece featured an enormously inflated balloon-caricature of Adolf Hitler, who hatched two large eggs, from which emerged Zimmer-
mann and Falke as a pair of lascivious, scantily clad, blonde-wigged caricatures of Aryan female beauty (Jockel 17–31). This piece was as much a macabre critique of the dark sister pair Ursula had constructed with Gertrud Falke and then with Gertrud Zimmermann as a sociopolitical satire. After 1933 Ursula ceased dancing in public, and after the death of her husband, in 1936, she moved to Berlin and taught in an arts academy. The Falke sisters had only minor artistic interest independent of each other, for what made them significant was their skill in disclosing the presence of another dark woman in the female dancer, an insight Ursula seemed to grasp with hauntingly ominous implication in her eerie Hitler dance. But the most curious aspect of the Falke sisters was their reluctance to exploit their strength with any rigor or visionary ambition; they seemed afflicted with languor, procrastinating gestures, a dilettantish disdain for technical complexity. Yet this resistance to ambition was perhaps their strongest defense against the constant temptation to treat dance as primarily a response to the oppressive economic realities they inherited from their parents and then from the war.
Alexander Sacharoff (1886–1963) and Clotilde von Derp (1892–1974) formed the most enduringly popular dance pair in European history. The aesthetic that bound them together depended on an atmosphere of extreme artificiality and refined gender game—playing, which may explain the couple's great durability. Sacharoff was born into a middle-class Jewish family in the Ukraine. In 1903 he went to Paris to study painting at the Academie Julien under Bourgereau; however, when he saw a play in which the actress Sarah Bernhardt performed a minuet with Coquelin, he decided to become a dancer. In 1908 he began studying acrobatics in Munich, where he made friends with such modernist artists as Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Marianne Werefkin, and Alexander Jawlensky, for whom he sometimes posed as a rather androgynous figure. His own taste in art inclined much more strongly toward ancient Greek vase painting and fifteenth-century Italian masters. He gave his first concert in Munich in 1910, and in all his early performances he projected the image of an ancient Greek vase painting figure, donning a kind of tunic-skirt while dancing to music (harps and string quartet) by Renaissance Italian composers (Palestrina, Monteverdi, Di Lassos) or a waltz by Johann Strauss. In both movement and costume he strove toward adrogyny, which seemed to suppress all muscularity of expression. In 1912–1913 he danced with the Rita Sacchetto ballet company. Critics, according to Brandenburg, "found that the feminine part seemed masculine and the masculine feminine, and in fact Sacharoff moved with wonderful lightness; he even wept with his partner in his hands, without
making us think that because of this action he wanted to step too closely to a bad comedy not of his own invention." For her part, Sacchetto sputtered in "incoherent and idle attitudes of a costumed doll" (148).
Meanwhile, Clotilde von Derp was shaping her own career as a dancer. Born in Berlin to an aristocratic family, she moved with her mother to Munich in 1900, where she studied ballet and violin. Like Sacharoff, she gave her first concert in Munich in 1910, and her success was such that Max Reinhardt invited her to perform an elf role in a pantomime production, which led to her assuming the main role in his spectacular pantomime Sumurun in London in 1911. Brandenburg felt that before she teamed with Sacharoff she was a "purely lyrical dancer" with an unusual gift for constructing "rich" bodily rhythms, "song[s] of the blood" that did not seem dominated or determined by musical rhythms: her body appeared moved and freed by the music, not synchronized with it—not, so to speak, married to it (142–143). He regarded her partnership with Sacharoff as a mistake, for she "denied her blood" and intellectuality to pursue an aesthetic that made him look more masculine and forced her to sacrifice her lyrical severity for an excessively sweet femininity (155).
Brandenburg's anti-Semitism somewhat clouded perception of the couple, but as a dance pair they hardly embodied the qualities pervasively associated with a distinctively German impulse in dance. They met in 1913 at an arts festival in Munich and decided to become a dance pair once they had perfected their technique. When the war broke out, Sacharoff moved to Lausanne, with Derp following (1916), accompanied by her mother. The two did not begin dancing together until 1917, entirely in Switzerland. They married in 1919, and the same year in Zurich they made the acquaintance of the wealthy Edith Rockefeller, who offered to sponsor their performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York early the following year. American audiences, however, showed little enthusiasm for the Sacharoffs' aesthetic. In 1921 they settled in Paris, which became their base during the interwar years, and they performed throughout Europe until 1930, when they embarked upon a successful tour of China and Japan. They repeated the tour in 1934, followed by concerts in Montreal, Detroit, and South American cities. In Spain when Germany invaded France, the Sacharoffs migrated, by way of Portugal, to Buenos Aires, where they remained until 1949, when they returned to Paris. In 1950, while visiting Italy, where they had once enjoyed much success, they met Count Guido Chigi Saracini, who invited them to teach a dance course at his Accademia Musicale Chigiani in Siena. Thus, from 1952 until their deaths they lived in Rome, teaching in Siena and at their own school in Rome at Palazzo Dorio. Although they stopped dancing as a pair in 1956, they remained prominent figures in the Italian dance world, with Sacharoff the subject of art exhibitions featur-
ing his extravagant costume designs (Veroli; Fontaine; Ropa; Vaccarino; Vuillermoz).
The Sacharoffs made an enduring impression as a couple embodying a unified aesthetic, yet the pair performed only a few dances together, and most of these were romantic waltzes they had created in the years 1916 to 1919. Their romantic pair waltzes and chorales had the effect of masking differences between them and of presenting couplehood as the ultimate motive for dance. But despite Brandenburg's contention that she lost her distinctive sense of bodily rhythm through her match with Alexander, Clotilde did retain much of her original style in her solos, and her association with Alexander primarily implied (for him as well as her) a stronger mastery of ballet technique, although neither dancer was ever in any sense a virtuoso. Ballet technique enabled the couple to build a repertoire of movements, which they applied to the construction of virtually all their dances into the 1940s. They introduced no innovations in movement, and Alexander in particular consistently showed a tendency to think out dances as a series of poses, an approach no doubt due to his education in art. His acrobatic training urged him to synchronize all his movements to the music, whereas Clotilde moved much more independently of the music, urged more by the image the music created in her mind than by the rhythms themselves. In other words, she danced not to the music but rather to an idea within herself stimulated by the music, which is why Brandenburg described her style as "intellectual."
Clotilde displayed a more eclectic and modern taste in music than Alexander, who seldom chose anything from the twentieth century, whereas she favored music created during her lifetime: Reger, Schmitt, Pizzetti, Faure, Stravinsky, Scriabin. The couple displayed little narrative imagination and had difficulty developing dramatic structures for their dances. However, Clotilde's body possessed an extraordinarily dramatic and luscious glow, and in spite of her very dark hair her face exuded a hypnotic luminosity and her eyes a haunting, enticing shine. Indeed, perhaps no other dancer of the era owned such a powerful yet delicate repertoire of smiles. The music she chose projected mostly a melancholy or elegiac mood in a minor key, yet she always conveyed the impression that she experienced great pleasure in displaying, moving, and costuming her body. She seemed to suggest that no matter the context, she would feel some mysterious happiness on her own, aristocratic terms, whereas Alexander constantly adopted a more serious aspect, drifting occasionally into pathos even when he danced with her. But for neither of them was dance an expression of struggle or toil. Their art lacked a tragic dimension, just as it lacked kinetic technical innovation, yet all the same it was complex. The Sacharoffs created alluring dances by recombining their rather narrow range of balletic
movements and poses in relation to a gorgeous array of costumes, letting their glamorous outfits make old movements new.
Alexander and Clotilde often designed their own costumes, sometimes they collaborated with major figures of the Parisian haute couture: Georges Barbier, Paul Poiret, Hubert de Givenchy, Jeanne Lanvin, René Goetz, Nathalia Goncharova, Marie-Louise Bruyere. All their costumes displayed spectacular colors, luxurious refinement, and a glorification of remote historical fashions (Figure 53). For Petit Berger (1917) Clotilde wore a stunning green chiffon minidress decorated with red, yellow, and blue cloth roses, but in Poeme Printanier (1917) she danced in a fuller dress printed with an ecstatic multitude of brilliant flowers. In Danse (1921) she wore an elegant medieval-Byzantine dress in blue and gold. Even when she donned folk dresses, the designs were so lavishly stylized that folk culture appeared as a charming abstraction rather than as a stable sign of "authenticity." She also liked flaming red costumes, elegantly trimmed with silver or accompanied by black capes and accessories. Sometimes she danced in swirling chiffon trousers, and she never lost her taste for appearing in an eighteenth-century, "half-boyish, half-girlish union of pants and coat," for she looked extremely pretty and radiantly feminine in male garments (HB 142).
Alexander's taste in costume was just as flamboyant: from the time of Visione del Quattrocentro (1913), introduced during his work with Sacchetto, he strongly favored sacerdotal, medieval-Renaissance robes and vestments of imperial splendor. He often appeared, especially in pair dances, wearing luxurious pajama-type pants of an exotic nature or Venetian-Pierrot costumes with all sorts of precious details. He loved painting and powdering his face, with Pavane Royale (1913) being perhaps his most elaborate masquerade of masculinity, for here he parodied the already fantastic mannerisms of an aristocrat in the court of Louis XIV. Golliwog's Cakewalk (1916) was virtually a transvestite performance, even though he wore gaudy puff-trousers, but he really did not cultivate female impersonation. Rather, he sought to show the beauty of "effeminate" masculinity, freed from the conventional markers of modern male identity, the male body completely detached from muscularity and heroic posturing yet nevertheless pleased with itself and not at all constrained in its power to lead the woman.
When he teamed up with Clotilde, Alexander ceased to adopt the ancient Greek look, but Clotilde began to explore it, most notably in Danseuse de Delphes (1916), in which she achieved a far more elegant, refined, and yet modern (proto—art deco) look than Isadora Duncan ever did. The Sacharoffs delighted in bizarre hats, shoes, and wigs, with some of their wigs consisting of "hair" sculpted out of gold or silver metal and further ornamented with extravagant garlands of silk flowers and wax fruit.
For their pair dance Chanson des Oies (1923), they wore identical furry white duck masks and trim "duck suits"; only Clotilde's little "feather" skirt established a difference between male and female. For Chanson Negre (1921), which used a black gospel song as accompaniment, she actually wore, for once, a modern-style dress, with spats, black gloves, a scarf, and a sort of Little Orphan Annie wig, but she attached to her waist a skirt of huge ostrich plumes. One cannot say that she impersonated a black person or even a black way of dancing—rather, she demonstrated how black music disclosed yet another mask of her white femininity (Vuillermoz 33).
Indeed, the great message of the Sacharoffs was that sexual identity, pairing, and marriage itself were all masquerades, the consequences of perfect artificiality rather than "nature." The happiness of a couple depended on elaborate masks and a common balletic rhetoric of movement to disguise powerful differences between them. Brandenburg found this implication so haunting and unsettling that he spent an unusually large number of pages trying to explain it away, for perhaps he grasped intuitively a further implication: that the "happy couple" consisted of two people who were happy together, not two people who were happiest only when they shared the same desire. In the artificial world of the Sacharoffs, no one was happy who was not intensely narcissistic. Perhaps this point was never clearer than in Clotilde's solo interpretation of Debussy's Le prelude à l'apres midi d'un Faun (1936). Nijinsky's 1912 interpretation of Debussy's music had provoked much controversy in Paris because of his friezelike presentation of a bacchantic female choir and his own muscular but delicate impersonation of the faun, who, unable to consummate his desire for any of the women, concluded the piece by masturbating in his bower-lair (Nectoux). Clotilde's version was just as daring, especially if one reads it as a commentary on Nijinsky's piece. She wore not an animal-like costume but rather a flimsy white chiton printed with red and black splotches, which gave the effect of violent bloodstains on her torso. Around her shoulders she looped a long purple scarf, and around her head she set a garland of wax grapes. She performed her dance largely by sitting on the floor in a soft spotlight, undulating, writhing, arching, discarding the scarf, and spreading her legs so that the hem of the dress slid down her thighs to display the splendor of her flesh (Veroli 148–149). She passed through her wonderful repertoire of smiles and langorous glances. The dance was a masturbatory glorification of her beauty, of her love for herself, the dominant source of an ecstasy that depended on no one but herself; for as close as she was to the spectator, her pleasure always seemed remote, a secret she alone appreciated. Of course, it is extremely rare to witness a forty-four-year-old woman dancing with such voluptuous pleasure in herself, basking in her own beauty with a brazenness that seems to awaken an outraged urge to violate her—an urge she herself has already anticipated.
Yvonne Georgi and Harald Kreutzberg
Yvonne Georgi (1903–1975) and Harald Kreutzberg (1902–1968) enjoyed enormous and unprecedented international appeal as a pair from 1928 to 1930, then suddenly went in separate directions because their ambitions were so incompatible. No pair was so interesting to such a large audience, and their appeal lay precisely in their sophisticated synthesis of quite incompatible sensibilities.
Georgi was born in Leipzig, where her father was a prominent physician married to a French-Algerian woman. Yvonne Georgi projected an exotic, Arabic image: sleek, black-haired, smoldering. At school during the war, she endured embarrassments because of her French mother; when (1920), as a result of playing in a pantomime at the home of conductor Arthur Nikisch, she announced her intention to become a dancer instead of a librarian, she faced major skepticism and disappointment from her parents. Perhaps because of a need to overcome serious doubts about the nature of her desires, Georgi was throughout her life intensely competitive and ambitious. She put on her first program of dances in 1920, then went to Hellerau to study the method of Jaques-Dalcroze, which she soon found too gymnastic and lacking in dance expressivity. Having seen Wigman perform in Leipzig, she enrolled at Wigman's school in Dresden, where she easily became a star pupil and a member of Wigman's famous first group, which included Wigman, Palucca, Holm, and Trümpy. But Georgi wanted more. She started producing her own solo programs, which consisted of dances with music, dances with percussion accompaniment only, and dances in silence, as well as cyclical works built around the music of Scriabin, Haas, Milhaud, and Krenek. By 1923 she had learned all she could from Wigman and had embarked on her own path. She accepted Kurt Jooss's invitation to dance in his production of the Tels-Wellesz Persisches Ballett (1924) in Münster, and her success prompted the Gera Municipal Opera to appoint her ballet mistress. But she was there only a year (1925) before the Hannover Municipal Opera offered her the position of ballet mistress. Her popularity in Hannover was great, enduring, and, remarkably, achieved through her desire to create distinctly Ausdruckstanz ballets using advanced modern music (Figure 54). She lured Mila Cirul and Kreutzberg away from their soloist positions with the Berlin State Opera to dance in her 1926 production of Stravinsky's Petrouchka (1911), and at the end of the year, after establishing her own school, she and Kreutzberg put on a concert together containing fourteen pieces. Only two of these were pair dances; nevertheless, he decided not to return to Berlin (Koegler 22–33).
Kreutzberg came from a quite different milieu. His grandfather and father were in the circus and wild animal entertainment business, and his mother strongly encouraged his precocious gift for play-acting and theatri-
cal gestures. He was born in Bohemia, but the family tended to wander: Breslau, Leipzig, Dresden. In 1920, while attending art school in Dresden (Kreutzberg was also a gifted draftsman), he performed a "hashish dance" at a student carnival party. The popularity of this piece was such that he decided to enroll in an amateur course at Wigman's school. His talent impressed Wigman, but she made little use of it, so in 1923 he accepted the invitation of another Wigman student, Max Terpis, to dance in Hannover, where Terpis directed the ballet of the Municipal Opera. Working in a large ensemble made Kreutzberg somewhat nervous, but the opera director, Hanns Niedecken-Gebhard, recognized Kreutzberg's gift for acting and cast him in the small character roles that often make dances memorable. Meanwhile, Kreutzberg formed a partnership with Frida Holst to produce pair dance recitals. Then Terpis accepted appointment as ballet director of the Berlin State Opera and took Kreutzberg with him. In Wellesz's controversial ballet Die Nächtlichen (1926), Kreutzberg appeared as Fear, a sinister, dissonant evocation of demonic forces circulating through the city between twilight and dawn. Despite the unpopularity of Wellesz's morbid music, Terpis went in for more gloom with Don Morte (1926), a version of Edgar Allen Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, employing music by the Austrian composer Friedrich Wilckens (1899–?). In this piece, Kreutzberg danced the role of an eccentric jester, wearing a gold costume and a mask with a bald head. The opera costume shop had difficulty devising a bald wig for him, so he shaved off all of his blond hair. His appearance made such a powerful impression on audiences that he maintained his trademark bald head for the rest of his life. Don Morte also initiated the lifelong collaboration between Kreutzberg and Wilckens, who not only wrote numerous pieces for Kreutzberg but also was his accompanist.
With Elisabeth Grube, another dancer at the opera, Kreutzberg and Wilckens produced several dance recitals in Berlin. Kreutzberg's partnership with Grube collapsed when Georgi invited him to Hannover, but the new collaboration stalled almost immediately when, in 1927, Max Reinhardt cast Kreutzberg in Salzburg productions of Turandot and Jedermann , then as Puck for a New York production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (Figure 55). Even in his most serious performances, Kreutzberg cultivated the image of a jester, a medieval fool, a demonic acrobat. When he returned to Hannover in 1928 as a dance instructor, he collaborated with Georgi and Wilckens on a grotesque pantomime, Robes, Pierre and Co., which presented a man falling murderously in love with a show window mannequin and featured dances accompanied by the sound of typewriters, gunshots, and Kreutzberg himself singing a falsetto parody of a coloratura aria (Pirchan 7–31).
Like the Sacharoffs, Georgi and Kreutzberg performed only a few dances together, but their appeal as a pair rested largely on their skill at manipu-
lating the architecture of the concert program so that their solo dances appeared not as autonomous, self-contained pieces but as movements within a large-scale image of pairing. Unlike the Sacharoffs, Georgi and Kreutzberg eschewed an aura of luxury and concentrated on perfecting an austere, streamlined modernism. Both of them were muscular, athletic dancers who delighted in displaying physical prowess and dexterity, yet they each drifted into melancholy moods, with Georgi especially prone to orgiastic-ecstatic impulses and Kreutzberg never losing touch with the grotesque, the demonic, and the macabre. Kreutzberg occasionally incorporated feminine movements and details into his dances, most obviously in his Turandot dance (1927), in which his bald head yielded to the signifying power of a dark Oriental gown and large tassel-earrings, and in Der ewige Kreis (1936), in which he wore the medieval masks and costumes of a prostitute and an idle rich woman. Unlike either Sacharoff or Seewitz, Kreutzberg tended to parody feminine movements for grotesque effect, though rarely in his pair dances with Georgi, where they tended to mirror or echo each other's movements. Georgi, however, entertained hardly any doubt about the difference between masculine and feminine; indeed, she almost never wore any sort of trousers, and she avoided any movements or costume effects that destabilized the spectator's perception of her constant, dark, athletic femaleness. She was, therefore, quite unlike Clotilde von Derp, who loved disclosing ever-new aspects of her femaleness. But as a result, in pair dances, Kreutzberg's movements, mirroring Georgi's, appeared more feminine than if she had mirrored his.
Fahnentanz (1928) was a quintessential mirror dance: they wore vaguely centurionlike cap-helmets, tunic-skirts, and large capes, which they waved as flags in great, rapid, swirling movements. They created the impression of ecstatic warriors controlled by a powerful, undulating current that made them echo rather than fight each other. Hymnis (1929), with music by Lully, was a much more somber, ceremonial piece: "[T]hrough it Mr. Kreutzberg and Miss Georgi were marvellous counterparts, weaving the dance in two strands, now meeting in unified motion, now parting in motion contrasted; two in one in mated style and suggestion" (Parker 212). Pavane (1930, music: Ravel) repeated this effect with even greater gravity, with Georgi and Kreutzberg wearing glowing white costumes as they moved slowly and mournfully through the dark space. Another slow piece, Persiches Lied (1928, music: Satie), done in glamorous Oriental costumes, showed the dancers meeting in the space, coiling about each other, striving always to produce matching movements that allowed them to sink to the floor embracing, covered in a veil (Braaksma). All their other pair dances were variations on those described here: they sought to make the couple the source of mirror-echo effects—"complementary patterns" and "reciprocities of motion" (Parker 204). They never presented man and woman in con-
flict with each other, never created tension through competing configurations of bodily rhythm, and this avoidance (or fear) of conflict greatly diminished the dramatic power of their pair dances. In their 1931 Berlin performance to Gustav Holst's huge symphonic poem The Planets (1916), one of the largest pair concerts ever staged, they employed a monumental abstract set consisting of a row of dark, cavelike entrances from which emerged spiraling ramps and towering, slanting walls; these gave the impression that no matter how remotely separated in space the man and woman were, the couple always retained its power to define itself through complementary movement.
But in reality Georgi and Kreutzberg did not complement each other, and in their solo dances the differences between them introduced a dramatic power that their pair dances lacked. Georgi constantly hungered for rapturous excitement. In Wälzer (1929, music: Wilckens) she swirled and eddied her sleek body with breathtakingly voluptuous lyricism. In Salome (1929)—which, curiously, used music by Cyril Scott rather than the more familiar pieces on this theme by Schmitt or Strauss—she was almost naked and moved with an unapologetic, maybe even vulgar determination to appear sexy. With Cassandra (1929), shrouded in a great net-veil, she displayed the ominous, tragic ecstasy she could feel in prophesizing, in dreaming of vast doom. Darker and stranger still was Tanz des Böses (1923), in which, accompanied only by crashing gongs, she exulted, convulsively, in the glamor of demonic possession, of unashamed evil and sadism. In Arabische Suite (1927), however, she signified an ecstasy derived from exquisite, shimmering, rippling refinements of a delicately fluttering body, while in Dämmerung (1929, music: Debussy) she conveyed a melancholy "restlessness subdued to quiet ecstasy" (204). Kreutzberg, for his part, nurtured the image of the jester or sardonic stranger. In Narrentanz (1927) he produced a muscular, hyperexpressionist dance in which he held rather than wore a mask and dramatized a passionate spirit of revolt against the masked identity seeking to impose itself on him. In Drei irre Gestalten (1928), accompanied only by hallucinatory noises, he adopted an even more Caligariesque expressionism in his clinical impersonations of an idiot, a homicidal maniac, and a paranoiac, solitary inmates of an asylum. Most spectacularly expressionist of all was Der Engel der Jüngste Gericht (1928, music: Wilckens), in which he wore an enormous, swirling black cape that concealed his entire body except for his bald head and made him a "figure of darksome splendors, blessing and warning, aloof and drawing nigh" (205). At the end of the dance, he sank to the floor as if he were a demonic body descending into a great, rippling circle of darkness, a pool of undulant blackness. In Engel der Verkündigung (1928, music: Wilckens), he was a good angel, in biblical costume, quietly, slowly, and luminously signifying the immanence of divine message. Der Königstanz (1928, music: Reger) was altogether more
muscular and martial, full of "turbulent, imperious motion" yet somewhat grotesque, with Kreutzberg wearing a weird, pharaoanic wire headpiece and a gold scarf attached to bracelets on both arms, so that the vehemence of his movements seemed curiously restrained, rather than provoked, by the vaguely feminine decorative accessories. With Caprice (1929, music: Smetana) he introduced his archetypal incarnation of the carefree, strolling, skipping, lolling, wandering, improvising jester who, in various "vagabond" guises, exerted such endearing appeal for German audiences of the 1930s and 1940s (Parker 200–213; Wille).
Clearly, pair dances alone scarcely explained the enormous international popularity of the Georgi-Kreutzberg team. Between 1929 and 1931 they made four comprehensive tours of both Europe and the United States, where they appeared up and down both coasts and throughout the Midwest as probably the most profitable modern dance act in U.S. history (Pirchan 32–40). No American dancers, including the team of Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, enjoyed such popularity. Yet, unlike the Sacharoffs, Georgi and Kreutzberg did not embody the "happy couple." Their pair dances tended toward the elegiac and ceremonial; they seemed to express a virtuosic, synchronized cheerfulness rather than a stirring or triumphant happiness. In Potpourri (1929), for example, they wore polka-dot costumes and goofed around on stage with the pianist, Wilckens, interrupting his efforts to get a dance started with music by hovering over him and inserting their own discordant chords: "[O]ff they flung in staccato steps with that perfect mating of heads and arms, as in a two-fold pattern made one in line and rhythm. . . . Like children, they snatched up sticks, called them bows and arrows, sported with them," until the exasperated pianist crept away with the music and compelled the dancers to follow him off stage (Parker 206–207). But though this sort of humor proved quite delightful, it both concealed and revealed the major limitation of their pair dance aesthetic: their reluctance to build dramatic tension between each other in relation to a source of conflict—the music, the musician, or the man.
Yet it was precisely because they pursued such divergent ambitions that they could not long remain a dance couple, and in 1931 they made their last tour. Georgi always wanted more powerful and commanding opportunities to assert her authority as an artist. In 1928 she accepted appointment as ballet mistress at Braunschweig as well as at Hannover. Then, when the national economic crisis of 1930–1931 severely reduced subsidies to the opera houses, Georgi accepted an invitation from the Wagner Society to choreograph in Amsterdam. In 1932 she married a prominent Dutch journalist and found even grander opportunities for her talent, although she continued to work for Hannover until 1936. Already in 1926 Georgi had published an article in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung in which she contended that "the modern solo and group dance must conquer the theatre in
order to enlarge its field of activity and expand its borders." She complained about the lack of production values and the excessive modesty of concert recital dance culture, which, she believed, had enfeebled public enthusiasm for modern dance. She blamed dancers themselves for their lack of ambition in appropriating the state theatre apparatus, for "it is not true that the expressivity, the intensity of dance in the theatre, be it in a ballet or within an opera, becomes lost" (Koegler, Yvonne Georgi , 31–32). The article was in part a veiled criticism of her teacher, Wigman, who favored cultic performance at the expense of large-scale productions and never displayed any enthusiasm for a reconciliation of Ausdruckstanz with ballet.
Georgi always distrusted schools, including her own, to recognize and exploit talent to the fullest, for teachers invariably accommodate the limitations of most students rather than the potential of a few. Besides, she wanted to put modern dance culture on a more secure economic foundation than that offered by the fragile school companies, in which, indeed, students paid to dance instead of receiving pay. An elevation in the economic status of the dancer demanded the production of large-scale ensemble pieces sponsored by generously subsidized institutions that could attract top talent in a range of fields—dance, music, design, choreography, administration. Moreover, she wanted dance to attract strong male talent, but how was that possible if dance did not situate itself within the institutionalized emblems of power through which society expected men to fulfill their obligations to it? One might even say that Georgi aspired to become the Wagner of the German dance world, so grandiose was her sense of dance as an institutional power on the European cultural scene. She continued to give solo concerts in Germany and even in New York (1935), but her heart was in the big theatrical productions she produced in Hannover and Amsterdam. Yet progress toward her aim remained slow. She staged over twenty ballets in Hannover and Amsterdam before putting together a company to tour the United States in 1937. But the tour was a disaster that bankrupted her, and in 1938 she accepted an offer to choreograph ballets for a Dutch circus and to direct a huge spectacle celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Queen Wilhelmina's reign. Her success in these endeavors enabled her to form the Ballet Yvonne Georgi in 1939.
By this time, however, disciples of fascism in Dutch culture, led by the artist Hein von Essen and the critic Weremeus Buning, sought to dominate Dutch dance through control of a group called Nederlands Dansliga. For many years, an oversupply of dancers had afflicted Dutch dance with dilettantism. Georgi's productions considerably raised the standards of Dutch dance performance, but voices within the Dansliga contended that she "monopolized" the dance world by her intensely competitive desire to attract the best talent and highest production values, by her "un-Dutch" devotion to Greek mythological themes, and by her subordination of mod-
ern dance expressivity to the aims of classical ballet. When the Germans invaded in May 1940, the situation became more ambiguous, for Georgi's husband, Lodewijk Arntzenius, an official of the Concertgebouw concert hall, was sympathetic to Nazism, and the Germans firmly approved of Georgi's aesthetic. With unprecedentedly generous subsidies, the Ballet Yvonne Georgi produced works of a scale and virtuosity never before achieved in Dutch dance history: Orfeus and Euridice (1941), Josefs Legende (1942), Carmina Burana (1944). But when the war ended, Georgi and her husband faced serious stigmatization that compelled them to leave Holland in 1949. With great success she resumed her choreographic duties in Hannover (1953–1970), but a visit of this company to Amsterdam in 1967 awakened bitter criticism of her Nazi collaboration (Koegler, Yvonne Georgi; ESG 49–65). Well before the war, her choreography had begun to make ever greater concessions to ballet technique and conventions, and her enthusiasm for Greek mythological themes seems to have subdued her inclination toward unbridled ecstasy. In spite of her taste for modern orchestral music, her ballets never advanced the expressive power of dance beyond what it was in 1930, and certainly none of her ballets of the 1930s and 1940s displayed the innovative imagination of her early group pieces in Hannover, such as Saudades do Brasil (1925), Petrouchka (1926), Baby in der Bar (1928), Tanzsuite (1928), Das seltsame Haus (1928), and Robes, Pierre and Co. (1928).
After the war she achieved even greater acclaim for her ballet choreography in Düsseldorf, Hannover, and Vienna and for television, but this acclaim seemed directed more at her success in mobilizing postwar resources on behalf of dance than at her ballets themselves. It is surprising how meagerly German dance historians have treated her work, especially in the postwar period, even though she significantly raised the standards of German ballet, at least in terms of production values and technical competence. Her turn toward ballet implied a sacrifice of her dark ecstatic impulse; she used modernism and dance to reconcile historical tensions within herself rather than within a society struggling with its past. She displaced the aesthetic of reconciliation from her pair dances with Kreutzberg onto her large-scale ensemble productions, resulting, despite a strong narrative element, in a lack of dramatic power and transformative effect on modern dance art. But the Berlin critic Fritz Böhme had observed as early as 1923 that Georgi had "not yet reached" a "compelling" sense of composition or made the "conquering step" toward artistic triumph (Koegler, Yvonne Georgi, 24). The problem was that Georgi was afraid of her own ambition and appetite, afraid of taking that one wild step further that might destroy her in its refusal to reconcile itself with any other step. The intense ambiguity of Georgi's identity left an equally ambivalent legacy, for despite appearances to the contrary it was never her desire to abandon Ausdruckstanz for ballet. She more than anyone showed the power of Ausdruckstanz to
take over ballet and imbue it with an expressionist attitude toward the body.
As for Kreutzberg, he followed a different path altogether. Though he occasionally choreographed theatre productions in Leipzig and Berlin and even appeared with Georgi in a couple of her Greek ballets for Hannover in 1934–1935, Kreutzberg's art flourished most distinctively in his solo concerts. He was always looking for a partner—Elisabeth Grube, Tilly Losch, Yvonne Georgi, Ruth Page, Ilse Meutdner—but his most enduring partnership was with Wilckens, his composer, accompanist, and business manager. With the American dancer Ruth Page (1898–1991), Kreutzberg pursued a pairs aesthetic closely resembling that of his partnership with Georgi. The two teamed up for a tour of the United States in 1933 and were so successful they repeated it the following year and continued on to Japan and China. During the 1920s, Page had exhibited an exuberant modernist spirit that had somehow evolved out of the decorative ballet style imported to America by Adolph Bolm (1884–1951), her teacher, whom she regarded as an "excessive influence" on her expressivity (Page, Class Notes , 15). Her Prelude in Blue (1926), Ballet Scaffolding (1925), and Flapper and the Quarterback (1926) were perhaps the most expressionistic-constructivist dances produced in the United States before 1930, and her astonishing Bolero (1930, music: Ravel), with its mounting tension achieved through accumulating movements of stationary bodies, was perhaps the most exciting achievement of the Ravinia Opera Company of Chicago (where Page hoped, in vain as it turned out, to create a base for modern dance culture competitive with that of New York). Like Georgi, Page longed to do big theatrical dances, but she displayed limited imagination in the construction of pair dances, with her most notable success in this vein being the violent and quite lurid Frankie and Johnny (1938, music: Moss), a WPA project. Here, at last, pair dancing (within an ensemble) was synonymous not with complementary or synchronous movements but with explosive drama.
She regarded Pavlova and Kreutzberg as the "greatest influences" on her career, but Kreutzberg's aesthetic apparently absorbed little of her romantic spirit (Page, Video Archives , tape 13). He retained his usual
repertoire of solos and refashioned his dances with Georgi to fit Page. For example, in Bauerlicher Tanz (1928, music: Wilckens) the couple danced back to back in matching polka-dot costumes with their arms entwined. But in Bacchanale (1933, music: Malipiero) he took the same idea and darkened it in a way he never had with Georgi: the couple danced back to back with arms entwined, but Page wore a black dress and Kreutzberg a black shirt and pants, and both wore black elastic bands around their arms and white elastic bands crossing their faces and around their heads (Turbyfill). These bands, first introduced for Kreutzberg's solo Königstanz (1927), created the impression of bodies both bound and bandaged, reinforcing the theme of bacchanalian ecstasy as an intense closeness to another body yet a frenzied (wounding?) struggle to face that body. Page began experimenting with elastic bands for her expressionistic solos, and Kreutzberg began devising solos, such as the primeval Der erste Mensch (1934, music: Bach), in which he twisted rope around his arms in a more muscled style than elastic bands suggested.
After 1935 Kreutzberg moved decisively toward the perfection of his medieval, vagabond jester image, Eulenspiegel. Georgi inspired his interest in Greek themes, which inspired Orfeus klagt um Euridike (1935), a revision of his jester's revolt dance. This time he danced, in chiton and wig, holding the mask of Euridice, although later presentations of the dance featured a mask with more emphatically feminine features than earlier ones. In Orestes (1935), with gold rope wig, he struggled again with ropes around his arms. The pathetic Orfeus dance remained in his repertoire for years, but his fame rested on his more grotesque works, such as the medieval Der ewige Kreis (1936), in which, with fantastic masks, he presented a death-dance suite of Boschlike impersonations of archetypal Gothic figures. Even in Der Tod (1937) he impersonated Death as a lurching, pouncing, acrobatic jester wandering aimlessly across a twilight space like one of the "mad creatures" in his asylum piece. In 1935 he toured the United States yet again, this time with four women, including Ilse Meudtner. Here he introduced his "scenes from Breughel" and his Nächtliche Habanera (music: Debussy), in which the four women appeared as ancient skeletons dressed in elaborate black sixteenth-century Spanish costumes with mantillas and fans (Meutdner 30–43). Kreutzberg's appeal in the United States was perhaps only a little less than what it was in Germany, which says much for the power of his aesthetic to cross borders.
Harald Kreutzberg was probably the most popular dance figure in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s, and his success with solo concerts during these years enabled him to live quite comfortably in a Tirolean chalet and to give him the sense that he had accomplished all that he was capable of doing. However, his aesthetic implied more than he intended. In 1943 Kreutzberg appeared with Werner Krauss in Pabst's handsome film Paracel-
sus , set in the late Middle Ages. Not surprisingly, he played an acrobatic jester, who winds up assisting the great physician in his escape from the volk -estranged authorities. The jester performs a grotesque dance in a tavern, almost a parody of expressionistic dance, creating a hypnotic effect on the male and female tavern patrons and driving them to a lunatic frenzy. When Paracelsus arrives on the scene, he recognizes the dance as a symptom of the plague and prescribes a cure based on his mysterious understanding of the "healthy community" rather than on the impotent academic rationalism of the university doctors. The film presents Ausdruckstanz as a sign of disease and communal pathology, but it is doubtful that Kreutzberg was even conscious of this implication. He just wandered into the film and then wandered on, always living entirely in the self-contained world of his solitary jester-self.
The army drafted him in 1944, but the Americans soon captured him on the Italian front; when they eventually released him, he returned to Germany and resumed his international career in the solo mode until 1959, performing mostly the same pieces he had created in the 1920s and 1930s. He also appeared in an excellent film version of Der ewige Kreis (1956) ("Harald Kreutzberg"). He was unquestionably the most significant male dancer to emerge from Ausdruckstanz , yet his impact on modern dance was far less than that of Vaslav Nijinsky (1888–1950), who in just a few years (1910–1917) had revolutionized the dance world by imposing upon it an overpowering intelligence. Nijinsky was a genius (and a madman) precisely because his mind was too complex to allow dance to construct a quintessential self for the dancer. He pushed bodies toward almost impossibly intricate and contradictory rhythms; he treated dance as the systematic dissolution of the self, the fragmentation of the body into multiple identities, bisexual ambiguities, violently conflicting impulses—as when, in The Rite of Spring (1913), the ballet corps had to shift instantly from, say, 5/16 rhythm to 7/8 to 2/4, and the right arms and legs had to move with a different rhythm from the left. Neither Laban nor Dalcroze, on the theoretical plain, could approach Nijinsky in complexity of imagination, in the application of an often impenetrable system of expressivity. By contrast, Kreutzberg seems to have retreated into his jester-self as a way of evading the heroic, almost superhuman expectations associated with an artist such as Nijinsky. The solitary jester figure was comfortably accessible to himself and to his audience; it was, in the iconography of male dance, a touching foil to the remote, unfathomable, and uncontainable god that was Nijinsky.