The presentation of dance as something more imagined than seen was by no means exclusive to theorists with literary inclinations. Fritz Giese (1890–1935) appeared to be a complete rationalist, boasting an impressive background in quantitative psychology, which he taught at the university in Halle. Though he published novels and literary sketches, including the bizarre Der Mond der Toinette (1920), he was in fact a stupefyingly productive scholar deeply preoccupied with how seemingly humble changes in the daily lives of individuals led to large-scale social transformations. Körperseele (1924) dealt with body culture generally, allowing Giese to shift freely from gymnastics to dance in his theory of bodily expressivity. He
derived his numerous categories for describing "body souls" from psychology, social science, and aesthetics, but his focus always remained on the techniques and attitudes that allowed everyone to appreciate the body as a sign of salvational power, without which a stifling of life occurred (149). Giese always thought in terms of types —types of body, types of personality, types of pedagogy, types of culture, types of dance—and although typological thinking was by no means a weakness, his statistically biased focus on average identity prevented him from examining very insightfully the ambiguities of performance realities. Only very occasionally did he refer to the work of dancers, and he did not analyze their dances: "I come to the last type in the spectrum [of dance types]—to the idea dance. In this zone we find only the most complete of all [dance] representatives. Here Wigman emerges—but always guided more expressively than intellectually; here one finds occasionally Sent M'ahesa, then Hedwig Nottebohm and Valeska Gert, with Laban" (181).
The 88 photographs in the book provided far stronger evidence of the body in performance than Giese's language. But Giese's aim was to analyze pervasive psychological or cognitive conditions defining perception of the body as an expressive sign; he wanted to explain how types of dance possessed inherent semantic value independent of the idiosyncracies associated with individual personalities. He therefore wrote copiously about types of dances. For example, in his rather convoluted discussion of nude dancing as a type, he remarked, as no one else ever did:
There is still one problem [with nude dancing]: namely the question of how a man should perform it. It is physiologically very difficult to handle and hard to make him carry [a dance] into complete nudity. But with that, his dance immediately loses the unerotic dimension [the asexual stage of objective pleasure], for each special concealment must only emphasize what it conceals [i.e., the penis—K. T.]. We know well that this situation will have little influence on the female spectator. Woman is total, never specially effected by observation of the strange. But the idea of the nude dance must still collapse, and one moves on to the question of whether the male body, from an aesthetic standpoint, may appear naked in a dance or satisfy aesthetically (174).
Though Giese's explanation of why male nude dancing was virtually nonexistent may seem hopelessly obscure, no one else showed the slightest inclination even to imagine such a category. Therein lay the chief advantage of cognitive categories: they established possibilities for dance culture that neither history nor performance had yet included. Moreover, the subordination of types and categories to a cognitive definition of the body permitted Giese to show, as so few other theorists dared to do, that the body of the dancer shaped the meaning of dance quite as much as movement, music, or scenic elements did.
However, an analytical system built around types invariably locates values in intentions rather than in performance realities, and in spite of the typologist's affection for average or aggregate identities, metaphysical idealism dominates perception: "The ideal always grows out of the ordinary" (142). The weakness of his method was perhaps most obvious in his discussion of the "androgynous dance" he associated with Clotilde von Derp, Alexander Sacharoff, Sent M'ahesa, Joachim von Seewitz, and Hedwig Nottebohm. Here he seemed completely uncertain of what these "male-female" bodies intended to represent by their dancing, and so he drifted into an absolutely abstract idea of the human body—an ideal "asexuality," a "neutrality" of being, a suprahuman "objectivization" of movement, a "bisexual romanticism" (180–181). Giese hesitated to make body type entirely responsible for this typological confusion, but his reluctance to analyze differences in the performances of the androgynous dancers left completely obscure the degree to which movement either neutralized the sexual identity of the dancer or manifested a bisexual desire of one sex to inhabit the other.
The reductivist economies of typologies may make the world accessible to everyone, but they wind up concealing differences behind the illusion of a total, unified system for assigning identities to the body. Consider, for example, the "shadows" section of Wigman's cycle Der Weg (1932). In this group piece, all the dancers wear white robes and hoods that completely conceal their bodies (Figure 68). Only spectators who knew that Wigman only used female dancers could tell for sure the sex of the performers. Otherwise the spectator would have to identify the sex of the dance or dancers from the movement. But what happens when an all-male or mixed-sex group performs the same movement in the same neutral costumes? Wigman seemed to suggest that only movement, not bodies, can transcend sexual difference. But for Giese, bodies always projected the force of a social type that imposed a unifying, social identity upon human movements. He published more body culture books—Weibliche Körperbildung (1922), Männliche Korperbildung (1924), Geist im Sport (1925), Girlkultur (1925)—that explained, in the typological method, how people could create a strong, healthy society by devoting modest portions of the day to the cultivation of their bodies through participation in exercise, sports, nudism, or bodily recreations. However, his own workaholic lifestyle led him to a premature demise.