As the careers of Kröller and Petz indicate those who attempted to integrate ballet and Ausdruckstanz developed vague artistic identities, and their impact was considerably less obvious or even noticeable than that of the hard-core expressionist dancers. Still, by 1929 the appropriation of ballet seemed a necessary facet of modern dance's appropriation of theatre. Moreover, appropriation entailed more than approval of ballet's rigid regulation of bodily expressivity through the classical on pointe "positions"—it entailed the assumption that a greater expressive power for dance depended on its success in constructing sustained, comprehensible narratives of sufficient complexity to test the capacity of the spectator to read kinetic signs. In short, the appropriation of ballet and theatre implied a devaluation of the abstraction and montage aesthetics defining the domain of Ausdruckstanz .
Naturally, these aesthetic implications, driven by economic objectives, led to interesting theoretical controversies. As early as 1922, Hans W. Fischer argued that expressionist dance created its own forms of narrative, forms that, because they focused perception on the body rather than on costume or on "objective" systems of movement, were not pantomimic ("Tanztraum"). But this argument did not explain how modern dance
should appropriate established theatrical institutions if the institutionalization of dance depended on narrative values defined largely by ballet. By contrast, in Das ekstatische Theater (1924), Felix Emmel asserted that contemporary literary drama required a new mode of performance in which speech and gesture emerged out of "rhythms of destiny," an "ecstasy of the blood" achieved by bringing acting and directing closer to dance and choreographic design, as in his own production of Der Bogen des Odysseus (1922) in Weimar (30–33). However, at the Munich Dance Congress in 1930, Emmel declared that in the literary theatre dance must serve the aim of the text and come from within it rather than, as in the work of the Russian directors Meyerhold and Tairov, being imposed upon it. Thus, the incorporation of dance into the literary theatre would require dramatists to write plays embodying a strong dance consciousness ("Tanz und Schauspiel"). Gustav Grund, a lay movement choir director for youth groups in Hamburg, took almost the opposite position: in both the literary theatre and the opera, the written text functioned as music that motivated bodily movement. Dance was not an illustration of the words nor a pantomimic representation of the word referents; rather, it was a kind of dramatic commentary on the words, often in tension with them, and therefore did not depend on either the author or the text for its inclusion in performance (Die vierte Wand, No. 3, 1927, 7–10).
At the Magdeburg Dance Congress of 1927, Hans Brandenburg explained that dance was the "primal cell of all theatre" and that both dance and theatre should strive toward a common goal or aesthetic identity. He insisted that modern dance not only had every right to move from the concert podiums to its own deserved zone of the subsidized theatres but even should constitute an expected element of all literary theatre ("Tanz und Theater"). Gertrud Bodenwieser in Vienna adopted a more practical attitude. She hardly believed that dance and drama could form a single, unified art form, for the difference between the choreographic and literary imaginations was far greater than nonpractitioners supposed. But because choreographic imagination was as significant for performance as literary imagination, she displayed no hesitation about inserting dances into plays, even where they were not intended, a strategy rejected by Emmel in his 1930 statement (see Stefan 58–59).
In Tanzkunst (1926), Fritz Böhme grasped that modern dance had transformed relations between body, movement, and space to such an extent that the subsidized theatre could no longer accommodate it; modern dance required a new architecture altogether. The further evolution of Ausdruckstanz depended on freeing it from conventional ideas of a stage and situating it within radically different architectural forms so that the visual dimension of performance no longer remained confined within the picture frame of a proscenium (198–207). Laban had already expressed this sentiment
with his proposal for a Gothic, cupola "dance temple" (Die Schönheit, 22/1, 1926, 2–4; 43–48). But by 1928 it was obvious that new theatre architecture of any sort, let alone specifically for dance, would not appear soon in the Weimar Republic; dance would have to content itself with appropriating a prewar notion of performance space, which implied some form of reconciliation with ballet. At the Essen Dance Congress of 1928, Kurt Jooss offered a distinction between Tanztheater and Theatertanz. Theatertanz referred to dance as an element contained within a larger dramatic narrative, such as Salome's dance in Oscar Wilde's play. Tanztheater involved drama created entirely out of and for dance, and it was the strongest basis for dance's appropriation of theatre. Thus, dance theatre, as defined by Ausdruckstanz, entailed new forms of danced narrative (scenarios and themes) rather than new relations between the body and space or even new methods of dancing. In another argument, Fred Hildenbrandt claimed that the institutionalization of the modern dance impulse actually meant the appropriation of the acrobatic dancing found in cabarets and revues and of contemporary social dance forms—a not altogether eccentric idea, but one that hardly resonated in the world of "serious" modern dance (Der Scheinwerfer, 11/12, March 1928, 24–26). Yet another view came from Rudolf Kölling, first solo dancer of the Berlin State Opera, who contended that as a member of a ballet corps, a dancer had to cultivate a much more complex consciousness of theatrical context than prevailed in modern dance: the dancer had to calculate every bodily movement in relation to every detail of costume, lighting, decor, music, ensemble, and special effect. The ballet dancer worked under much greater pressure than did dancers in the school companies, for "as an opera dancer, one must think of a thousand things, must overcome constraints, master obstacles. Only in this way will we succeed in conquering the theatre" (Die Schallkiste, 3/9, September 1928, 7–8).
The influence of Dalcroze no doubt contributed to many dancers' hesitation to "conquer" the theatre. He denounced the pathological effects on the body caused by the exorbitant demands of theatrical dance, especially ballet. Nevertheless, the Hellerau-Laxenburg school, guided by Valeria Kratina (1892–1983), developed its own form of dance theatre favoring open-air productions of dance dramas on themes of classical mythology cherished by Dalcroze himself—although in 1923 Kratina did stage the German premiere of Bartok's The Wooden Prince (Chladek, 54–59). In the late 1920s she choreographed the Laxenburg dancers in open-air dance versions of Greek tragedies in the amphitheatre at Syracuse, Sicily. Then, in 1930, she accepted appointment as ballet mistress in Breslau and Karlsruhe (1933–1937), later shifting to Dresden (1938–1944). But in her case, too, a serious assessment of her significance depends on the excavation of some substantial information about her work. Like Lola Rogge, she apparently sought to create a monumental image of classical culture that was free of
both ballet classicism and the excessively feminized Grecian ideal of improvised "naturalness" promoted by Isadora Duncan. Kratina's work suggested that dance theatre became institutionalized as Ausdruckstanz when it evolved independently of the state theatres, even if she herself eventually moved on to official positions.
Wigman perhaps believed even more strongly in this position. No doubt the political intrigues that prevented her from receiving the ballet mistress position in Dresden in 1920 contributed to her distrust of the official theatres and of dance theatre itself, for her concept of the group was probably too cultic to flourish within the complex political apparatus of a state theatre. She did choreograph dances for Hans Pfitzner's opera Die Rose von Liebesgarten (1921) in Hannover and for a Dresden production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1922), but obviously she saw no future in this sort of work. By 1929 she had disbanded her own school group because she felt she had reached an impasse with regard to further development of expressionist group dancing. She tried to resolve the crisis by producing one of the largest and most complex group pieces of the century, the controversial Totenmal (1930), which enjoyed an unprecedented run of ten weeks in Munich following its premiere at the Dance Congress. The production entailed an elaborate intersection of personnel and logistical support from a variety of organizations, as well as a stadiumlike performance space. But if Totenmal represented the future of expressionist dance theatre, one could not expect the state theatre system to supply the resources for it without introducing a radical change in production practices, and subsequently no one, including Wigman, attempted an ensemble production of similar scale or complexity. At the Essen Dance Congress of 1928, she gave a lengthy statement in which she argued that the aims and working methods of expressionist dancing and theatre dancing were so different that expressionist dance could "conquer" the theatre only through a radical revision of what theatre is: "We want not only dance in the theatre, but a rhythmically propelled and propelling theatre" (MS 77–82). In practice, she meant that expressionist dance theatre had to create its own institutions rather than try to fit into the prewar system, a strategy that was not convincing for some of her own brightest students, including Yvonne Georgi, Darja Collin, and Max Terpis, who accepted the necessity of accommodating ballet technique.
However, Margarethe Wallmann (b. 1904), director of the prosperous Wigman school in Berlin since 1927, attempted to reinforce the complex mode of production for Totenmal . In 1930, in Berlin, she produced the hugely successful (or, at least, far less controversial) Orfeus Dionysos (music: Glück), a vast and violent dance drama with a scenario by Felix Emmel. It employed an enormous corps of dancers and musicians (including Ted Shawn, Hans Weidt, and Mila Cirul) recruited from a variety of sources; Wallman herself danced the part of Euridice. The piece contained no con-
cessions to ballet technique, even though Wallmann had studied ballet in her native Vienna, but her choreography for the savage tribe of female Furies was so complicated that she required many more rehearsals than a regular full-length ballet. Her group movements avoided synchronized or unison effects and involved convoluted configurations that individualized each dancer, creating a very turbulent image of an ecstatic community in violent contrast to the almost stately composure of the ecstatic couple (see Mueller, "3. Deutscher," 23). For Wallmann, the ecstatic couple was an illusion destroyed by the ecstatic community of Furies, with communal ecstasy reaching its peak in mass violence, in the tearing apart of Orfeus.
Wallmann continued her complex, large-scale group choreography in another violent "mystery play," Das jüngste Gericht (1931, music: Handel), which premiered at the Salzburg Festival, where she was an annual participant during the 1930s (Figure 62). Here she situated her apocalyptic vision in a vaguely biblical context inhabited by allegorical figures such as the Rich Youth, the Poor Girl, the Spirit of Darkness, the Activist. The success of this piece urged her to break with Wigman, from whom she had already become somewhat distanced after a difficult experience teaching the Wigman doctrine at the Denishawn school in the United States 1928–1931). With the advent of the Third Reich, Wallmann, who was Jewish, returned to Vienna, where she became ballet mistress of the Vienna State Opera and director of its ballet school. Though she devised intriguing, original ballet scenarios such as Fanny Elssler (1934) and Der liebe Augustin (1936), her work became distinctly less intriguing than it had been before 1933. In 1939 she migrated to Buenos Aires, where she directed operas at the Teatro Colon, a task she pursued after the war in Rome and Milan, where she still lives.