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Group Dancing

Group dancing evolved more slowly than solo or pair dancing, primarily because of the economic complexities involved in setting up performance companies. In Germany, dance performance received subsidies only when affiliated with an opera or school, and even school companies did not begin to receive subsidies until 1925. The problem with school companies was that they depended almost entirely on students, on immature creative talent, which lowered production values in performance. What schools saved in dancer salaries was hardly enough to finance more lavish sets, costumes, lighting, or music. Conversely, professional companies had to pay huge salaries to dancers, which brought the further burden of providing high production values to attract audiences large enough to pay the salaries. The more familiar audiences became with dance art, the more impatient they became with dancers who did not invest adequately in the material quality of their productions, a reality successful solo and pair dancers understood very well.

Professional dance companies could not survive without touring, as no home-city audience for dance was large enough to sustain a professional company in its own theatre; indeed, only school companies owned their own theatres. But touring added heavily to the payroll because it tied up performers over long periods of time; thus, one could not form a professional company without having the resources to outbid other professional companies for the services of talented performers and designers. Moreover, impressive group dances depended on the controlling intelligence of a leader who had strong choreographic and managerial skills and could motivate members of a company to transcend petty differences between them on behalf of a collective aesthetic ambition. Laban grasped the importance of cultivating a "mysterious personality" for himself and his


students, but his leadership skills were much better suited to forming an elaborate institutional apparatus, a network of devoted schools, than in creating significant group dances themselves. His student, Wigman, showed far greater imagination in turning cultic performance into an act of choreography, a dramatic event for an audience, probably because of her obsession with thematizing ambiguous relations between group and leader. Even so, her school groups of 1921 to 1929 were always small and always built around her need to show her own skills as soloist within group dances or in a cycle of solo and group sections. As long as modern dance valued individual over group expression, it remained slow to develop a distinctive group aesthetic outside the bankrupt ballet tradition, which in the opera houses constructed ensemble pieces out of mechanical formulas and conventions authorized in St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Paris, and Vienna.

Rita Sacchetto

In Berlin, Rita Sacchetto (1880–1959) became one of the first in Germany to form, out of students in her school, an independent dance company, though hers lasted only a couple of years (1916–1918). Born in Munich, she was the daughter of a respected Venetian painter and an Austrian woman. Two of her brothers became painters, and Sacchetto established her own artistic identity through the creation of what she called "dance pictures" (Tanzbilder ); in these she used famous paintings to model dances, so that it seemed as if music and movement made the paintings come to life. She took ballet lessons and gave her solo debut concert in Munich in 1905, performing sarabandes, gavottes, minuettes, tarantellas, and Oriental dances in which costumes and poses resembled to a remarkable degree well-known paintings by, among others, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Botticelli, Greuze, and Moritz von Schwind. Her success led to an invitation to perform her odalisque dance in a production of Bizet's opera Djamilah in Vienna, where such artists as Gustav Klimt, Kolo Moser, and Joseph Hoffmann expressed delight in her art. Sacchetto then began a long (1907–1909) period of touring throughout Germany, Eastern Europe, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, South America, and New York. Loie Fuller arranged for her to perform intermezzo dances at the Metropolitan Opera, and in 1910 she gave at the Met an entire dance concert featuring her Botticelli dances, Siamese dance, and a large-scale pantomime called The Intellectual Awakening of Woman , which used Grieg's Peer Gynt suites and a group of thirty female dancers (Rieger). Later that year she embarked on a tour of Russia, which led to a collaboration with fashion designer Paul Poiret at his private theatre in Paris, where she impersonated a famous painting of the Empress Eugenie wearing her original dress (Ochaim). By 1912 she was


back in Munich as Alexander Sacharoff's partner in a pair dance team (HB 147). But the collaboration was brief, for in 1913 Sacchetto initiated her career as a movie star by appearing in Odette .

A 1914 concert in Copenhagen was apparently a "fiasco," but it brought her to the attention of the Nordisk film company, which never had enough female stars for the sensational erotic melodramas that made Danish films competitive on the European market. The Danes had introduced dance into silent film melodramas such as Afgrunden (1910), Vampyrdanserinden (1911), Det blaa Blod (1912), and Atlantis (1913), and Danish film companies had even tried to make film stars out of ballet dancers such as Elna Jorgen Jensen. Not without controversy, Nordisk hired Sacchetto to star in films for the astonishing salary of 7,000 kroner per picture, but she made many quite successful films, including Tempeldanserindens Elskov (1914), Madame Destinn (1914), Den skonne Evelyn (1915), Rovederkoppen (1915), and Fyrstinde Bianca a Costa (1916) (Brusendorff 140–145; Hendig 49–55; Bordwell 203). Sacchetto exuded a dusky, melancholy beauty that seemed even more refined and aristocratic, a "breeze of perfume," when displayed in opulent historical costumes. Although she excluded modern paintings of women from her graceful productions, she was probably the first to use silent film as a model for composing dances. Brandenburg spoke somewhat disparagingly of her "kinodrama," La Sonambula (1912), performed with Sacharoff, and in a review of a Budapest concert the Hungarian cultural journal Nyugat (9/1, 16 March 1916, 375–376) complained that Sacchetto, excellent film actress though she was, relied too heavily on lavish costumes and theatrical devices designed to accommodate the tastes of movie audiences; consequently, her dances had "nothing to say" and represented a degradation of a Greek aristocratic ideal in which dance was central to the perfection of a highly educated intelligence.

By this time Sacchetto, now residing in a luxurious villa in Berlin-Grunewald, had opened her "ballet school," which actually had less to do with ballet than with pantomime training. Her most important students included Anita Berber and Valeska Gert. Gert caused a minor scandal at a 1916 concert in the Bluthner auditorium when Sacchetto allowed her to perform her Tanz in Orange (a lewd parody of ballet steps) and, with Sidi Riha, the homosexual duet Golliwog's Cakewalk , which the police regarded as indecent (LF 11–13). Sacchetto, however, remained faithful to the pictorial gracefulness that Gert subverted.

The dance company toured several German cities. In 1917 Sacchetto married the Polish Count Zamoysky and resumed her work in the movies with Die Nixenkönigen before returning to Munich to open another school. She was soon touring with a small company consisting of herself and two students, Wally Konchinsky (Valerie Conti [1903–1945]) and Isa Belle. Reviews of her concerts in Berlin, Breslau, and Düsseldorf unanimously reached the


conclusion that her dance aesthetic was "kitsch," "unintentionally humorous," full of "empty pretentious poses," very dated, technically crude, and entirely dependent on her personal beauty (KTP 4, 1920, 117–119). Nevertheless, she always seemed to find an audience; in 1921 alone, she gave 120 performances in Paris. In 1922 her company included the husband of Wally Konchinsky, Jan Pawlikowsky, and the repertoire tended to consist of ornamentally bizarre pair dances performed by different combinations of the three. For example, in the "dream of a young woman," Konchinsky, in white tights with a white veil, danced with Sacchetto, in a black veil and black pants, a curious echo of the black-versus-white theme of the Gert-Riha Golliwog's Cakewalk . Sacchetto also created a Cocaine dance at the same time (1922) that Berber produced her own, nude Kokain .

Through Count Zamoysky, Sacchetto and Konchinsky became acquainted with the intellectual circle around the radical modernist writerartist Stanislaus Witkiewicz in Zakopane, Poland (Siedlecka 122–126). In 1924 one of the count's friends accidentally shot Sacchetto in the foot, and only this misfortune prevented her from continuing to dance in public, even though she was already forty-four years old; her beauty apparently compensated for all her technical defects and long-faded tastes (LF 15). Still, she continued teaching in Munich, staging pantomime pair dances for Dagmar Helsing and Helge Peters-Pawlinin and opening a school in Krakow in 1928 (Rieger). In 1930 Sacchetto and the Count left Poland to live in her father's homeland, Italy, in the town of Nervi, near Genoa. She remained there until her death, although in the 1930s she worked occasionally in Italian film production. It was easy to sneer at Sacchetto; critics obviously did after she entered the movies, and Berber and Gert made a point of desecrating her gaudy, pictorial historicism. But few dancers enjoyed such popular international acclaim, and the reason for her success lay in her attempts to historicize her beauty; like an old painting, the danced movement of the body suspended time itself and, indeed, turned the present into a luxurious cinematic image of the past.

Two Other Early Dance Groups

At the end of World War I, Magda Bauer formed the Münchener Tanz-Drei. Besides Bauer, the group included Erika Skogen and Ellinor Tordis, with the occasional participation of Lucie Heyer and costumes by Hanns Haas. This group's concerts consisted mostly of solos by each member, and the only pieces in which all three appeared were round dances in an exuberant style. The repertoire featured primarily old dance forms (waltzes, rondos, contra dances) in a free and giddy mood, although Bauer devised a piece that told a "Chinese story" in a droll fashion. Apparently, however, her strongest piece was Gebet und Tempeltanz , which was actually the creation of


Edith von Schrenck, who was hardly a cheerful or happy dancer. In this piece, to music by Grieg, Bauer included seventeen of her students in a complex set of movement patterns on all sides of the dance space, signifying an archaic temple; movement with, toward, around, and against other dances produced a "flowing polyphony," a "great prayer machinery," indicating a "monolithic, compulsively moving ecstasy"; "bodies made music—it was a racial dance that one had hardly expected of this cool-looking German Blondine" (HB 135; KTP 4, 1920, 122). Bauer soon faded from the dance scene, but Heyer remained active as a teacher in Munich, where her methods coincided with Nacktkultur . Her interest in ensemble dancing drifted toward lay movement choirs, and at the 1930 Munich Dance Congress, which is the last I hear from her, she presented excerpts from a large, socialistic work called Die Elemente , scripted by Edith Grothe.

Another early dance group of Munich, the Münchener Tanzgruppe, actually began in Hamburg; its name had something to do with attracting dance talent from Munich to Hamburg. Supposedly formed by two men, Paul Theodor Et*bauer (1892–?) and Andreas Scheller, it lasted only a few years, from 1920 to 1924, but because of its unusual structure a large number of dancers participated in its innovative activities. The most significant personality was neither Scheller nor Et*bauer but Jutta von Collande, who participated with the group from beginning to end. Most of the dancers came from the school managed by the Falke sisters, but some obtained their education from Laban or unknown sources (Jockel 32–51). Dancers who worked sporadically with the Münchener Tanzgruppe included Elsbeth Baack, Marna Glaan, Grete Jung (1900–?), Frida Holst (1900–1979), Gertrud Zimmermann, Elsa Kahl (1902–?), Laura Oesterreich, Tilli Daul, Manya Haack, Brigitte Artner, Hildegard Troplowitz, and Sigurd Leeder (1902–1981). But some performances of the Münchener Tanzgruppe involved Claire Bauroff, Frances Metz, Marie Müllerbrunn, Ella Knales von Vinda, Beatrice Mariagraete, Roswitha Bössenroth, Gertrud Falke, Anita Nessen, and Edith von Schrenck, and in 1921, Jutta von Collande and Gertrud Zimmermann collaborated on a program with Sebastian Droste, who soon became the partner and husband of Anita Berber. Hans W. Fischer and Hans Brandenburg acted as advisers to the group, and H.H. Stuckenschmidt composed the music, in a decidedly modern vein.

With Münchener Tanzgruppe, the notion of "group" was somewhat complex. It referred to a loose association of dancers who appeared in different combinations on programs of different dimensions at different times. This apparently was Scheller's intention, in spite of the managerial difficulties of achieving this ambition (HB 228). Programs often consisted of solos, duets, and trios, and the Münchener Tanzgruppe even sponsored solo concerts by some of its members, such as Hildegard Troplowitz, who had given solo concerts in Hamburg since at least 1918. Yet the group clearly thrived under the


controlling leadership of Collande. Scheller and Et*bauer, who was active as an expressionist artist, designer, art commentator, and dance instructor, created the Münchener Tanzgruppe to produce large-scale ensemble pieces. In January 1921 they presented their first two group works, along with "masculine" ("in the best sense") solos by Ella Knales von Vinda and "Oriental sketches" by Et*bauer. Laura Oesterreich directed the Galante Pantomime (music: Winternitz), an exquisite rococo entertainment in which Collande performed the role of a cavalier to Gertrud Falke's baronness; Anita Nessen played the maid, Grete Jung appeared as Polchinelle, and Elsbeth Baack portrayed the baron. A contemporary reviewer felt that in successive performances of this piece, in different theatres, the performers moved toward a refinement that was excessive and unnecessary (Ehlers). Scheller's only choreographic effort, Faschingsschwank in Wien (music: Schumann), was a much larger work involving "fifteen or sixteen" dancers who created "whirlpools and streams" of a "collective will" against the "solo personality" of Jutta von Collande: "[S]he seeks the mass, becomes drawn and repulsed by it, and eventually seizes the leadership of it, so that all power finally comes together in a large, happy festival procession" (Hans Fischer, Hamburger , 255).

Scheller planned to produce Hans Fischer's "dance play" Die traurige Prinzess , with the Falke sisters, Collande, and music by Stückenschmidt, but the insane inflation destroyed all the financing for the project, and it was not until 1922 that another group dance reached performance. By that time, Scheller had departed from the group, and Collande was in control. Der himmlische Kreisel (1922) was part of an "astral dance show" conceived by Fischer in collaboration with Collande and Stuckenschmidt and involving girl dancers from the Loheland school as well as an orchestra. By Fischer's own account, the work was a fascinating piece of imaginative ensemble thinking, far in advance of modern dance group productions anywhere else at the time, and it still seems radical today. The thirty-five-minute work used no consistent musical accompaniment but employed gong tones and a montage of passages from Adam, Grétry, and Stückenschmidt. On wobbly legs, a "giant golden sphere" (Et*bauer) tottered and hopped about wildly to the snapping of a clapper while the pianist played tenderly. Suddenly four little girls zoomed in as a scatter of shooting stars, followed by a comet—Manya Haack, dressed in black with a long gold headband trailing behind her. She, too, danced wildly, to music by Adolph Adam, but in an "entirely mature" manner. Then a "violet moon creature" in a bearded mask appeared and made "grasshopper" leaps before Jutta von Collande performed, with "clockwork precision," a dance of the planets with two girls. Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt depicted the "immensity of Sirius" as a wildly rotating shimmy, with a nebula of Loheland girls forming an undulating orbit. Finally came the pantomime of the "abduction and liberation of the sun," which appropriated ideas from the Japanese Noh theatre. Two


"winter demons" snatched the frail, trembling orbit of the sun (Collande); then a sorcerer (Andre Luksch) summoned the demons, who wore doubleconed or horned masks, and engaged them in a bizarre dance in which they used their voices to strengthen the rhythm of their movements. A gate opened with the blare of a trumpet fanfare, and the sun emerged to dispel the sorcerer and his demons. With Gretry's music, the sun summoned all the other dancers into a great, final dance of bodies flowing in space (Hans Fischer, Hamburger , 263–266). This piece depicted collective movement as a cosmic principle, but it was a rare example of collectivity wherein different musics, different choreographic styles, and different theoretical perspectives interacted to produce a single work.

The Münchener Tanzgruppe never again attempted a work of this scale, although Scheller apparently had this sort of aesthetic in mind when he formed the group. Financial problems plagued the company, in spite of the consistent success of its concerts in Hamburg. Under Collande the group seldom, if ever, produced any dances requiring more than four dancers, as was the case even before Scheller left (KTP 8, 1920, 221–222). Collande's idea of "group dance" implied different combinations of dances featuring herself in relation to different combinations of dancers, so that any one dance—solo, duet, trio, or quartet—had a distinct context in an ever-shifting program accommodating the ambitions of "other" performers. She disclosed a peculiar fondness for the music of the French opera composer Andre Gretry (1741–1813), but Brandenburg observed that only she knew how to dance to it (229). Perhaps for this reason, as much as for economic ones, she was hesitant to work on a larger scale. But within the modest realm of duets, trios, and quartets, she was quite inventive. For example, in Primavera (1920), which she danced with Claire Bauroff and Maria Müllerbrunn, the dancers moved to the music of three separate harps until, finally, one figure dominated the other two (HB 230). Of another trio, set to the music of Leoncavallo, a reviewer (KTP 8, 1920, 221) remarked delightedly that Collande, Troplowitz, and Zimmermann transformed themselves, in response to sharp rhythmic differentiations, from gray, yellow, and red peacock-feathered puppets into beautiful human beings embodying inspiration (Collande), feeling (Troplowitz), and temperament (Zimmermann).

No one seems to know what happened to Jutta von Collande after 1924. It is a haunting enigma. She seems to have obtained power over many people, yet group works provoked anxiety in her, and in her small ensemble pieces she was able to thematize the problem of constructing a group that did not devalue the individuality of its members. In her dances she suggested that an emancipated idea of the group nevertheless depended on the controlling power of an individual within the group rather than on the synchronizing power of music. But in a larger sense, she treated the Münchener Tanzgruppe as a constellation of bodies orbiting around her, but


not in the same trajectory, to form a single, unified sphere of energy: the larger group was a magnate that attracted people because of its opportunities for performance individuality, but Collande was at the center because she knew how to build a sense of communal identity entirely out of combinations of twos and threes. Gretry's music was important because it compelled dancers to trust Collande rather than the music and to place the body rather than the music at the center of this constellation of disparate desires. Her sudden disappearance hardly indicates the failure of her strategy; on the contrary, it implies the failure of economic systems to conceive of power and groups in anything but aggregate terms.

Vera Skoronel

Perhaps no dancer of the Weimar era was as aggressive in the pursuit of an emphatically modernist group aesthetic as Vera Skoronel (1906–1932), yet she displayed a strongly ambivalent attitude toward the abstraction conventionally associated with modernism. She was astonishingly precocious. Her father was the scientist Rudolf Lämmel, whose Der moderne Tanz (1928) contains the most detailed account of her aesthetic. Born in Zurich, she studied with Laban at age thirteen and then, in Zurich, with Laban's student, Suzanne Perrottet; in 1921 she enrolled at the Loheland school but the following year shifted to Dresden to study under Wigman. At age eighteen she accepted an offer to direct the dance activities in Oberhausen, where she formed her first group. When in 1925 financial difficulties forced Oberhausen to suspend its dance program, Skoronel joined forces with another Wigman student from Switzerland, Berthe Trümpy (1895–1983), in managing an opulent school in Berlin. A Gothic-medieval aura permeated Trümpy's dances; in her Christmas piece of 1926, a choir of female dancers in silver gowns performed with silver swords and lighted candles, and in Verkündigung (1927) Trümpy was a girlish, "sweet," and melancholy Madonna to Skoronel's rather cubistic-abstract and Oriental angel (RLM 172–173).

Trümpy was an excellent teacher and administrator who grasped the necessity of bestowing bourgeois seriousness and respectability on dance studies, an ambition that, she felt, required the establishment of a rigorously developed state dance academy presided over by a "scholarly non-dancer" (Freund 27). She needed someone to give her school a strong artistic identity, and that task fell to Skoronel, a dramatic-theoretical thinker whose movement imagination revealed a physicist's delight in formal abstraction. In the solo Kriegrrhythmus (1924), she introduced the "throwing, cutting, independent" arm movements for which she became famous. But this "stringent" warrior dance, with its Balinese and Singhalese influences, also conveyed a "tender" and "animal-like innocence," a strange


"purity" of "unconscious culture" that had "nothing to do with militarism" (146–147). Quadrat (1924) began with a solo by Skoronel, performing angular, broken movements as if in the grip of a fanatical demon. She sank to the floor, and the space became silent and dark; the lights returned to reveal a "stiff wall of human bodies," their dark arms upraised. The human wall drew closer and closer to Skoronel's inert form with "heavy waltz steps," until the entire group slowly sank around the lifeless body. Both the concept and choreography of the dance seemed astonishingly simple, yet it dramatized well a mysterious tension between the convulsed, "possessed" solo dancer and the "stiff" group, with the group submissive not to the wild dancer or to a strange music but to a powerfully inert body.

For the more abstract and ambitious Tanzspiel (1926), Skoronel devised a detailed written scenario to articulate the elaborate complexities of the piece and had the Trümpy school orchestra perform music specially composed to enhance particular effects of the scenario. Here the group had no visible leader, although Skoronel herself danced in it. Indeed, the group contained no characters, only "figures" such as the Id, the Mirror Being, the Two Lengths, and the Dancing Stage Wings, but these referred more to the abstract tunic costumes worn by the dancers than to the representation of differentiated motives for action. The piece, in three parts, dramatized the dynamic geometry of abstract movement categories. Lines and rows of bodies metamorphosed into whirlpools, spirals, triangles, diagonals, quartets, double duets, diagonals within circles, canons, and fugal patterns. Yet movement within a single configuration contained its own categories of dynamics: the elasticity of the line operated in relation to notions such as "crescendo," "mirroring," "syncopation," and "extension." Musical rhythms shifted abruptly, and different sections of the group moved to different rhythms; for example, one pair of dancers might move only its head and shoulders while a second pair moved its arms and a third moved its legs; one section might make hacking movements with the arms while another created undulations. Skoronel furthermore imposed emotional categories on the movement, so that arms moved "softly" or "mockingly," "violently" or "sweetly," "grotesquely" or with "melancholy." She concerned herself with the smallest bodily details: how the eyes should dance, when to smile, the vibration of the fingers, the melody of breathing (150–156) (Figures 56–57).

A dance for her was a matter of constructing a unique relation between these abstract categories of movement. She first enunciated this approach at age fifteen in a novel (never published), "Asja und Skule" (1919), about two female friends seeking ecstatic power through an intensely intellectual love of dance (161–162). Dance implied the mathematization of space, movement, and body, and group dance was the most powerful expression of this mathematization because it offered the greatest possibilities for combining categories of movement or signification. Skoronel associated


ecstatic freedom with "absolute" formal abstraction, and, in an unpublished manuscript from 1932, she explicitly linked abstraction with mechanization. By "mechanization" she did not mean imitation of or reference to machines; rather, she proposed the treatment of the body as an "instrument, which no longer displays human features" but moves according to an absolutely "pure harmony" that has "no content" and "nothing more to express" (MS 40). In an earlier article, she observed that with the "absolute dance," "form and content do not exist," and "superhuman ecstasy does not lie in the human psychic zones of joy and sorrow, but actually in the cosmic experience of the infinite—in abstraction" (Freund 73). In the Kinetographie, Laban sought to identify all possible abstract categories of human movement, but he was unable to apply these categories systematically in the creation of dances: he had a dictionary but could not form any sentences or syntax. Skoronel showed far greater power in thinking out dance abstractly, yet she relied on conventional writing (scenarios and theoretical essays) and stick-figure drawings to formulate her dances; she did not move toward any system of computation tables or logarithms to optimize the mechanization of movement.

In other words, Skoronel betrayed a measure of ambivalence toward her own abstractionism. This ambivalence surfaced overtly in Legende des Weissen Waldes (1927), a "dance fairy tale in four scenes," with "figures" such as a Sorceress, the Child of the White Forest, the Creatures of the White Forest, twelve Black-and-White Knights, four Water Sprites, and the Demon. The various dances making up the piece contained the complex combinations of movement categories already apparent in Tanzspiel, but this time movements constructed a semipantomimic narrative about the awakening of the solitary Child of the White Forest, the failure of the Knights and Prophets to protect the Child from the Demon, the rescue of the Child by the Sorceress, and, in a final test of "innocence," the Child's attempt to dance without sinking on the surface of a black lake. Silence accompanied several of the dances, but even more innovative was the imaginative use of lighting in the choreography. For example, spotlights showed only the arms of dancers (branches of "trees") undulating in a world of darkness; indeed, during some moments no dancers at all appeared on the stage, and one only saw the movement, the intensification or fading, of light. At one point, dancers moved in darkness; the lights came up suddenly and glaringly, then went out, conveying the impression that no one could see the whole dance, not even the dancers, who, like the Child, are blind to the world, even to themselves. The relation between the Child and the Prophets and Red Flowers was somewhat similar to that of the inert body and the synchronized wall of bodies in Quadrant, whereas the relation between the Demon and the Knights followed the model of a wild, turbulent, polyrhythmic group dominated by an explosively moving leader, who pressured the group to


explore and feed off all tensions within it without ever dissolving into individuals. But the appearance of the Sorceress, "accompanied by four Guards," complicated group-leader relations, for she performed an "angular-pantomimic" dance that inspired neither the fanatical rhythm of the Demon-group dances nor the trancelike tread of the Child-group dances. The pantomimic leader produced a slow, heavy rhythm, a steady, triumphant motion that soon dominated the movement of all groups and marked the Child's dance on water.

Few dances, including Wigman's, theorized leader-group relations with such sophistication and with such ambivalence over the ultimate authority of inert, abstract, or pantomimic bodies to lead, to mold bodies into groups. Yet Skoronel herself claimed that the "aim of the group dance (insofar as it has an aim) is the complete equality of given tensions: mass, group, soloist, leader. The harmonic, melded unity of all poles, even the strongest contrasts, is the basis of the new group dance" (RLM 169). As director of the speech and movement choirs of the Berlin Volksbühne, Skoronel applied these theoretical concepts on a larger scale in Erweckung der Masse (1927) and Der gespaltene Mensch (1927), in which, apparently, groups of women in dark tunics and bare legs moved in tension with a group of bare-chested men in black trousers. Here she pursued the gendered dynamics by which one group leads another or consolidates competing groups.

One might say that, through abstractionism, Skoronel sought to transcend the erotic themes or dynamics of erotic desire that exclusively female ensembles hesitated to explore, at least in an overt, romantic fashion. Nevertheless, eroticism pervaded her aesthetic. In Tanzspiel, some female dancers wore boyish haircuts and vaguely masculine (long-sleeved) tunics. Skoronel was herself a small, lithe, muscular woman who liked to be photographed performing aggressive, thrusting, surging movements that, when incarnated by such a pretty body, exerted strong erotic appeal for male spectators. Abstraction was not for her the end of eroticism; rather, she eroticized abstraction, attempting to make the desireability of the female body manifest in angular, hacking, squatting, or pumping movements. But the attempt succeeded only partially. Fritz Böhme, dance critic for the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, observed that Skoronel's formalism resembled ballet technique, with emphasis on arm rather than leg movements, and strove toward an "ideal of objectivity" based on mechanization of movement. But the result was a "pedantic" pleasure in exactness of execution not far removed from that displayed in the revue dances of the Tiller Girls (28 October 1926). In a review of Erweckung der Masse (27 March 1927), he complained that although the movement choirs performed expertly, the piece as a whole seemed guided by a force external to the "masses" themselves: "The movements are externally directed, not centered inwardly. The piece certainly contains symmetry, asymmetry, and polarities, but these lack


an inner, living, spatial necessity. Everything appears calculated, predetermined. . . . The 'awakening of the masses' does not unfold; it is given, imposed, ordained" by formal design.

Later the same year (5 October 1927), Böhme offered some deeper insight into the limitations of Skoronel's abstractionism. He remarked that she seldom sank into herself; instead, through her exaggerated, rushing movements, she projected a powerful will to test and exceed the "limits of bodily possibilities." But no matter how great her will, "she cannot overcome these limits," and "she will never reach the power of Wigman's gestural language," for "her dances continually show gestures of cutting, striking, shaking, annihilating, destroying." Without serious "content," such a dance aesthetic produced a "sort of agitation gone demonic." In Paris, André Levinson, a reactionary supporter of ballet, commented (1929) more favorably on the "turbulent agitation" of a "nearly tragic" aesthetic that did not strike him as German at all—perhaps Slavic. Skoronel "attacked" dances with "relentless exasperation," moved with "vehemence," turned "in a rage upon herself," "projected with force a steeled arm and fist," "stamped with anger" to embody "a young Fury prostrated by her paroxysm" (500). But in Berlin critical approval remained restrained. A reviewer for the Steglitzer Anzeiger (237, 9 October 1930) said of a solo concert by Skoronel that she knew "only two degrees of movement—the excited, convulsed leap and the ecstatic rotation," and as a result all of her pieces were too long.

In a 1929 article for Schrifttanz, Trümpy responded to criticisms of excessive abstraction in modern dance by arguing that Germans were a more intellectual than physical people and that therefore a distinctly German dance culture depended on intellectualism and abstraction. Russian-style ballet technique had emerged from a unique cultural context, she wrote, but in Germany ballet was a completely dead art, and efforts to promote a "healthy sensuality" in German dance based on pantomimic principles were misguided (VP 11–12). However, Trümpy's article actually somewhat confused the issue of dance's cultural identity, for Skoronel's mother was Russian, so her inclination toward abstraction and ballet-type formalism perhaps owed as much to Slavic heritage as to Germanic intellectualism (assuming the validity of Trümpy's own cultural distinctions). Skoronel died suddenly and mysteriously (of leukemia?), and when the Nazis took power Trümpy found it expedient to merge her school with the Günther school in Munich, where Maja Lex pursued a formalistic notion of the group that was far less "turbulent" and "vehemently" intellectual than Skoronel's.

Hans Weidt

A much more conventional and overtly politicized perception of group dancing appeared in the work of Hans Weidt (1904–1988), who was an


agent of the Communist Party. Born into a Hamburg working-class family, his father an alcoholic social democrat, Weidt was twelve when a folk-dance group stirred his interest in dancing. However, he had no money to study dancing, and when, as a teenager, he started working as a gardener, he found it difficult to arrange hours for dance lessons. In 1921 he studied briefly under Sigurd Leeder and then under Olga Brandt-Knack (1885–1978), both Laban students and ardent social democrats. But the poverty-stricken Weidt struggled to save money and find time for his passion, and in 1923 his participation in communist-led agitations completely radicalized his political beliefs in favor of a revolutionary transformation of society. In his solo debut concert in Hamburg in 1925, he presented dances depicting "the worker," "the lady beggar," "the new beginning," "on the dock," "rebellion," "the sick boy," "faces in the street," all subjects seldom introduced by bourgeois dancers. Further peculiarities of the concert were Weidt's use of Chopin compositions to accompany these unromantic themes and the use of a trumpet to perform the music (Weidt had made friends with an orchestral trumpet player who provided accompaniment for no fee).

Despite the ambivalent critical response to this concert, he decided to pursue a career as a dancer. He gathered about him a group of unemployed youths "from all classes," mostly male, who practiced in a factory studio and performed at communist-sponsored events. Yet financial difficulties constantly subverted his ambitions. Then Brandt-Knack, ballet mistress of the Hamburg State Opera, gave him the lead role in a ballet, Der Gaukler und der Klingelspiel (1928), enabling him to become conscious of his own capacity to sustain large-scale dance forms. Theatre director Erwin Piscator attended a performance of the Worker's Dance Group and was so impressed that he invited Weidt to work on theatrical productions in Berlin. There Weidt became acquainted with leading artists of the left: Friedrich Wolf, Erich Mühsam, Stefan Wolpe, Ludwig Renn, Ernst Busch, Helene Weigel. To support himself he gave dance lessons and taught physical education at Nacktkultur camps and communist youth societies, but his living circumstances remained hard. In 1930 he danced the role of the Dark Leader in Margarethe Wallmann's huge dance drama Orfeus Dionysos . Though in Hamburg he had performed some duets with Lotte Lobstein, he definitely preferred the company and collaboration of men, and he viewed his female students as narcissistic dilettantes (Weidt 15). He presented himself as a hopelessly unromantic working-class ugly duckling, incapable of inspiring desire in bourgeois women, but he was actually quite good-looking, enjoyed nudism, and delighted in opportunities to display his muscular physique in dances. He choreographed movement choirs in Piscator's production of Friedrich Wolf's Tai Yang erwacht (1929), and through Wolf, Weidt became indoctrinated into communist ideology, joining the party in 1931.


His party connections enabled him to form Die Roten Tänzer, a company that soon comprised forty-five dancers and produced the most overtly propagandistic dance in Weimar Germany, notably in Passion eines Menschen (1931, in collaboration with Ludwig Renn), Tanz des Arbeitslosen (1930), Arbeiterkampflieder (1931), Potsdam (1932), Das Gas wird von Arbeiter gemacht (1932), and Tanz der Gefangenen (1933). However, the audience for these efforts consisted largely of the already converted, and only the red press viewed them with much favor, although Fritz Böhme, soon to become a Nazi sympathizer, expressed enthusiasm for Weidt's aesthetic. The production of Potsdam , which clearly satirized right-wing political figures such as Hitler, Hugenberg, and von Papen, got Weidt arrested in January 1933. Theatre director Karl-Heinz Martin, for whom Weidt had originally conceived Tanz der alten Leute (1931) as part of a failed production of Alfred Döblin's play Die Ehe , arranged for Weidt's release, whereupon the Communist Party arranged for him and his group to participate in the Moscow Olympiade in May 1933. The Russians welcomed him effusively, but they regarded his dance aesthetic as insufficiently "militant": "Our attempt to shape themes of the worker movement with the expressive possibilities of the new artistic dance . . . was at that time still hard to understand, all the more in a country in which the classical ballet played so great a role" (Reinisch 48–49).

Weidt returned to Hamburg, but the police were waiting at the dock to arrest him, so he stayed on the ship and made his way to Paris, where he had friends, party connections, and opportunities through the House of Culture. He renamed himself Jean Weidt, starred in short dance films of Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1933) and Ravel's Bolero (1934), and formed a new dance group, Ballet Weidt, which performed mostly at party-sponsored rallies. The French bourgeois press reacted more appreciatively to his aesthetic than had Weimar critics, but the French police considered him a foreign subversive and took steps to have him deported. In 1935 he therefore accepted another invitation from the exiled Piscator to work again in Moscow, where he seriously began to study ballet technique at the Bolshoi. Although ballet technique offered exciting possibilities for Ausdruckstanz , the ballet productions themselves seemed tediously "conventional" and lacking in modernist revolutionary spirit. Thus, in January 1936, Weidt journeyed to Prague to work with the avant-garde theatre director E. F. Burian and the Liberated Theatre of Voskovec and Werich. Life continued to be hard for him, and he had to construct a pseudonymous identity to avoid deportation by the vigilantly anticommunist police. Eventually, however, he succeeded in strengthening his connections to the party in Paris, where he returned in 1937. There he cultivated many influential friends: Jean Cocteau, Louis Aragon, Arthur Honegger, Pablo Picasso, Charles Dullin, Jean-Louis Barrault. A newly formed Ballet Weidt, following an itinerary shaped by the party, performed in Paris, Marseilles, Cannes, and


Corsica, often in support of fund-raising efforts to defeat the fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. Weidt also pursued a romance with a communist French woman, who gave birth to a son in 1939, but his German identity, so he claimed, estranged her from him, and when the Germans invaded France he never saw them again.

He sought to escape persecution by fleeing to North Africa, but by 1942 Casablanca was under Vichy control, and Weidt's life became even harder. He spent terrible months in an Algerian concentration camp until a new commandant permitted him to dance for soldiers at the Algiers Opera House. When the British captured Algiers, he danced for them, too—mostly his solo worker dances from the Weimar days. He then joined the British army and participated, as a member of a construction brigade, in the Allied invasion of Italy. Upon his discharge in 1946 he returned to Paris, where he founded yet another group, Ballet des Arts, comprising six men and six women. In 1947 the company produced Die Zelle , winner of the gold medal at the international ballet competition in Copenhagen. But in spite of successful tours of Holland and Belgium, the group suffered from continually inadequate financing. Weidt could not resist an offer of generous subsidies from the communist government in East Berlin, to which he made his final migration in 1948. There Weidt became a highly respected teacher and choreographer of ideologically correct ballets for opera companies, but his work during the many ensuing years of stability lacked both the innovation and the utterly distinct political expressivity of his fugitive years before the war (Weidt; Reinisch)

Weidt's perception of group dancing was virtually antithetical to that of Skoronel: political content entirely dominated his thinking about bodily movement, and matters of form and technique always remained subordinate to the projection of a correct spirit, which acknowledged that "dance is struggle" on behalf of an oppressed class of people (Reinisch 185–191). In his memoirs and polemical statements, he scarcely reflected on dance at all; instead, he discussed his hard struggle to live as a dancer with a communist perspective. His autobiography devoted more pages to his few dismal months in the concentration camp than to any phase of his artistic career. Dance was for him a way to achieve a higher class identity, which, however, he assumed was impossible for him to achieve independently of the Communist Party. From his debut concert on, he thought of his work as ballet, because ballet resonated with a grandeur and dignity of identity denied the working class. But his aesthetic before 1939 actually had little to do with ballet in any rigorous sense, and even in relation to Ausdruckstanz he was hardly an auspicious innovator in the realm of movement dynamics. He claimed to free dance from the prettified mythic images of bourgeois female dancers, yet his own dances borrowed heavily from the stereotyped poster imagery of downtrodden social types and heroically victorious work-


ers. He asserted that his dances included movements he had learned as a gardener, but in reality none of his dances presented any insightful relation between laboring and aesthetic movements, despite the enormous and quite unexplored potential for expressivity in constructing such a relation. Slow, ponderous movements and huddled bunching of female bodies signified the oppressed masses; gaping mouths and outstretched arms signified suffering. Drooping, cowering, cringing, plodding movements characterized further aspects of oppression. The heroic side of the struggle, represented mostly by bare-chested males, entailed militant flexing of muscles, strident stepping, uplifted faces, vigorous swinging of arms, confrontational stances, and lunging rushes.

For Weidt, a group implied a synchronized, uniform identity for several bodies, and although he sometimes contrasted different groups he showed little awareness of contradictions within a group; nor did he disclose a sophisticated perception of leader-group dynamics: the destiny of a group derived not from any force within it nor from the force of a mesmeric, lonely individual nor even from any distinct music but always from a conventional, archetypal image of "hunger" or "the worker" or, perhaps, "the red flag." One of Weidt's most interesting works, Passion eines Menschen (1931), with spoken narrative by Ludwig Renn, music by Stefan Wolpe, and masks by Erich Goldstaub, derived its imagery from a "novel" in woodcuts by the Flemish expressionist-socialist artist Frans Masereel. This piece followed a simple iconographic narrative: workers in a factory suddenly find themselves laid off, and, when they protest, the police persecute them. One of the workers, Klaus, kills a police spy who attacks Klaus's mother in a bar where she sells flowers. In jail Klaus meets his true "comrades" while "women lament over their men." The court regards Klaus as a political murderer, and the workers' efforts to save him from execution are in vain; however, his death provokes a revolutionary upheaval (Reinisch 165). Narrative content sustained interest in this and most of Weidt's other dances, and as long as the story dominated movement choices, movement retained a crudely pantomimic identity almost completely devoid of irony. To insure that his audience "got" the story, he even inscribed it into the program: Eine Frau (1930, music: Heyken)—"once she was a mother, but the war took everything from her. Now she must work again, as if she were thirty. Her life is worry and work"; Strassentänzer (1931, music: Erben)—"China—it could be Berlin—he always dances with consuming ecstasy. For what? For the street? For pleasure? For a pair of coins?" A more curious work was Potsdam (1932), in which narrative development remained subordinate to an abstract aim, the construction of a group piece that had no leader, even though it showed the leaders of the Weimar Republic. Hitler, Hugenberg, Hindenburg, and von Papen, wearing caricatured masks, danced as unified group to hit tunes of 1932. They moved in an amusing, courtly-bizarre style


that was "not directly ridiculous" but "incredible" and so perverse as to imply a dreadful "danger" in such a unified group of leaders.

Although Weidt revived the dance in Paris, his aesthetic never again moved in this intriguing direction. He loved using masks in his group works, yet most were eerie caricatures of archetypal expressions of oppression, elderliness, and deprivation. However, in the solo Indian-Romantik (1934) and the group Kampftanz (1934), supposedly based on Sioux Indian tribal dances, he explored opportunities to display heroic male nudity, and he made a very handsome model for nude sculptures by Niko Eekman in 1937. In his choice of music, he showed an enthusiasm for contemporary composers, as long as they possessed correct political credentials: Arthur Berger, Stefan Wolpe, Hanns Eisler, Wolfgang Erben, Alban Berg, Josef Kosma. Yet the music he loved best was by that most bourgeois and romantic of all composers, Chopin. If it is difficult to take him as seriously as he wished, it is because he never seriously acknowledged any struggle within himself to form the personality he valued so highly. Personality for him always emerged from without, as a struggle to rise from the depths. Ambiguities of bodily movement and sexual identity seemed obstacles to the approval of the great party of revolutionary men who understood his constant hunger to find a better place to sleep, a better home.

Hertha Feist

Weidt expressed much gratitude for the help given him during his years in Weimar Berlin by Hertha Feist (1896–1990), although, curiously, her own students seemed reluctant to show her any gratitude at all (Reinisch 35; Peter 37). Her bourgeois socialism produced an image of group identity far removed from Weidt's archetypal "masses." She was the younger sister of Fritz Böhme's first wife. Böhme, in an unpublished 1947 manuscript, gave an enchantingly vivid description of Feist dancing nude only for him in the golden twilight of a grove in the Grunewald in the summer of 1915: she asked him to close his eyes until she said open them, and when he opened them he saw a glorious female body approaching him, improvising the most complex movements, stretching, folding, trembling, kneeling, rising up on tiptoes, twisting, spiraling, rotating, arching, turning her breathing into music, until she suddenly disappeared into the shadows (Böhme, "Laban," 1–5). Nudity and the "purest" expression of the healthy body constituted dominant features of Hertha Feist's aesthetic. Yet she had many teachers whose incompatible influences led to a set of works that somehow did not live up to the summer afternoon vision of her described by Böhme.

She studied first with Dalcroze at Hellerau (1914), then with Bode and a Mensendieck teacher in Munich (1915); Böhme recommended that she study with Olga Desmond in Berlin (1917), where she made her debut in


1919 with a baring of her breasts. Finding Desmond's instruction unsatisfying, she went to Stuttgart to study under Laban, whom she soon followed to Mannheim and then to Frankfurt, Lübeck, Bremen, Gleschendorf, and Hamburg, appearing in grandiose productions of Laban's Der schwingende Tempel (1921), Agamemnons Tod (1922), and Faust II (1922) and participating in his countercultural pastoral-communal lifestyle (Schuftan 32; Peter 36). By 1923, however, she decided it was time to go her own way. She therefore returned to Berlin to establish her own school and to teach a class at Carl Diem's sports academy. Feist was especially successful at integrating the study of gymnastics, sport activity, nudism, and dance. No other dance school in Germany attracted such a large number of male students, although few of hers entertained professional ambitions. She continued to collaborate with Laban on Berlin performances of his Lichtwende (1923), Prometheus (1924), Dämmernde Rhythmen (1925), and Don Juan (1926), in which she danced the role of Donna Elvira; of course, her pedagogy emphatically promoted the doctrines of Laban. She involved herself in curious projects, such as the dances for a production of Klaus Mann's play Anya and Esther (1926), with music by Klaus Pringsheim and costumes by Lotte Pritzel, and some sort of dance in connection with the showing of an American sound film, Hands (1929), containing music by Marc Blitzstein. However, her most provocative work was the bizarre group dance Die Berufung (1928), performed by her Novembergruppe with strong support from the social democratic cultural apparatus. With this piece she toured Germany, Poland, Switzerland, and England. In 1930–1931 she danced in the controversial Laban-Jooss Tannhäuser-Bacchanal at Bayreuth (Cameron). But with the beginning of the Nazi era, her work as a choreographer came to an end. Her last ensemble piece was an ambitious production of Glück's Iphigenie in Aulis on the steps of the Pergamon Museum in May 1933. Soon thereafter the Nazis appropriated her school building and compelled her to move to smaller quarters. She always had many students, but all her choreography, even after the war ended, consisted of reconstructions of Renaissance dance forms. In 1943 she moved to Celle, then Hannover, where she taught (1952–1965) at the Volkshochschule. Eventually she became an adept of the Rosicrucian Order, for which she created her last dance, in 1965, to consecrate the Golden Temple of the Rose Cross in Bad Münder (Peter, "Hertha Feist," 37).

Like Jutta von Collande, Hertha Feist cultivated an elaborately complex image of the group that achieved complete expression not in any one piece but in relations between pieces or between dancers from different schools. Just as she desired to integrate dance, gymnastics, and sports, so she welcomed opportunities to merge people from different institutions into a single work. But this inclination to merge forces conflicted with her deeper urge to achieve maximum purity of expression. Indeed, she experienced


some difficulty in naming her desires. A 1925 program proclaimed: "WE ARE NOT A DANCE COMPANY. NOT BALLET! Our dance work is spiritualized gymnastics"; however, the program also announced itself as the work of the Tanzgruppe Hertha Feist ("Hertha Feist"). She experimented with lengthy concerts containing as many as fourteen or fifteen dances, but the organization of the dances—solos, duets, trios, ensembles—conformed to a grand structure so that different pieces by different dancers seemed to be part of a single large work, with each dance a kind of commentary on the previous one. Moreover, Feist tended to impose a formal color scheme on the order of dances. Thus, a 1925 concert opened with an ensemble sword dance, in which the movement choir wore gray; the ensuing prayer dance, for solo male, was yellow, as was the seventh dance, a female solo on the theme of "the powerful." The third dance, a female duet, was in green, the fourth dance a female solo in white, and the fifth a female solo in blue; a female trio was in red, and the piece concluded with movement choir in a spectrum of colors.

Feist worked closely with Lotte Auerbach and Seraphine Kinne in producing concerts featuring the three of them, and she gave solo concerts as late as 1933, but she liked best to assert herself within a large, complex group, and she did not mind turning her own or another dancer's solo into a trio or ensemble piece. Early in 1927 she began including an ensemble of eight men in her concerts for "battle" dances, but she apparently had difficulty devising dances in which the sexes interacted, for the male dances consistently appeared separately. That was an especially odd feature of her choreography, because in the classroom or in outdoor arenas she liked to have large groups of male and female dancers exercise together and perform gendered thesis-antithesis patterns of movement. Even in these cases, however, the male and female groups rarely actually merged; males became integrated only if females greatly outnumbered them. Though she encouraged nudism for both sexes, Feist liked having the men exercise nude or nearly nude while the women wore tunics. In her dances, however, nudity was negligible, despite the unforgettable beauty of her nude dance for Böhme in 1915 and her association with Olga Desmond.

In 1926 she and her school group started participating in concerts sponsored by the Social Democratic Party, performing her solo "Dionysian dance," Auerbach's "elegy," and ensemble pieces on the themes of summoning, struggle, and joy. Ein Frühlings Mysterium (1927) was a huge choraldance work, with music by Heinz Tiessen (conductor: Jascha Horenstein) and a script by Bruno Schönlank, the radical socialist author of Der gespaltende Mensch (1927), another grand hymn to class solidarity. Vera Skoronel supervised the choreography for this work, in which Feist coordinated the movements of her own students with those of children's, youth, and drama groups of the SDP.


Her most significant piece was Die Berufung (1928), a "dance poem in four round dances and a prelude," with orchestral music (now lost) by Edmund Meisel, costumes by Thea Schleusner, and masks by Wolfdietrich Stein. Die Berufung was an ensemble piece about the merging of ensembles. Feist differentiated each group by color, with each female group having a female leader: violet (Auerbach), green (Kinne), black (Anna Fligg), gray (Hertha Boethke), orange (Eva Becher). The silver group, however, was male and led by Feist herself. After a prelude establishing the control of the silver group over the space, the first round presented the "dance of isolated animal-like humanity," in which the five color groups danced independently of each other until the appearance of the silver leader, who imposed unity through oppression. The second round depicted the awakening of the groups to the perception that their obsession with preserving the purity of their colors had allowed the silver leader to dominate them. The third round showed the emerging strength within the color groups, their struggle against the silver leader, the appearance of the "dark forms," and the defeat of the dark forms by the silver group. The final round opened with a "bacchanal of groups," which led to strife between the groups, the return of the silver group, the partitioning, immobilization, and annihilation of the groups into an amorphous mass, and the summoning (Berufung ) of two kinds of controlling, balancing forms from the mass.

Feist saw the piece as dramatizing the evolution from chaos to community, but critics, not without good reason, tended to find the piece filled with obscurity. Richard Biedrzynski, in the Deutsche Zeitung (7 March 1928), observed that Feist had sacrificed dance power for visual power: "movement drama is not dance drama." Nevertheless, he contended, "the new as such is always stronger than what has already succeeded," and Feist had "raised movement in space to a symphony in colors." But Böhme was already convinced that Feist was not sure what identity she wanted for herself, her group, or her dances (Deutsche Zeitung, 22 November 1927). Even Die Berufung underwent several radical revisions at least one of which identified the different groups not by color but by species: hippopotamuses, rain worms, polyps, and "greedy, lewd, coquettish creatures." In the Volksbühne version, the silver group did not wear masks, but most of the other groups did. The silver group wore Buck Rogers–type capes and astro-suits that made no distinction between the female leader and the male group; the color groups wore costumes of a style that prevailed in the Dark Ages (Figure 58). John Schikowski in Vorwärts (18 November 1927) and a reviewer for the Tägliche Rundschau (17 November 1927) both asserted that Feist showed greater strength in handling grotesque or burlesque moods than melancholy or demonic themes, a serious defect in Böhme's mind. Feist's decision to use color rather than species groups was obviously an effort to encourage a more serious attitude toward her message,


which in any case was hardly a model of purity of expression ("Hertha Feist").

Although Die Berufung fascinated audiences, Feist abandoned the highly uncertain direction it entailed and instead concentrated on integrating with other groups guided by Laban (1930–1931), Dorothea Albu (1930), the social democrats (1932), and Jutta Klamt (1934). Iphigenie in Aulis (1933), with Max von Schillings conducting a full orchestra performing Wagner's updating of Glück's music, was an immense outdoor production that apparently involved movements very difficult to execute on the great marble steps of the Pergamon Museum, but knowledge about this piece remains scant. With Jutta Klamt in 1934 she created an eight-woman piece, Botschaft, with a score by the Croatian composer and theorist of "astral music" Josef Slavensky. By 1935, however, she had only one male dance on her programs, a duet fool's dance, and the following year she had no male dances at all, for she had no male students (though female students remained plentiful). Meanwhile, she wrestled with a theme that had preoccupied her since 1921, writing an essay on the "relation between body culture and art." Here she differentiated gymnastics from dance, contending that dance focused on the whole body and its emotional relation to time and space whereas gymnastics focused, in a mechanical manner, on parts of the body independently of feelings. By 1936 she had conceded the futility of integrating dance and gymnastics and proposed that dance ultimately achieved purity of expression by recovering the archaic spirit of the folk dance. At Nazified concerts she performed waltzes, mazurkas, tarantellas, humoresques, contra dances, and even dance forms from the time of the Renaissance, though nothing larger than trios; however, her taste in music did not entirely coincide with this direction, for she especially favored the music of Bach and Scriabin. Nazism clearly diminished her power to attract men toward dance and toward herself, but even before the Nazis took over she seemed to have experienced a great disillusionment over her failure to create anything as mysteriously naked and pure as the dance she performed for Böhme in the woods. The source of this disillusionment lay not within a pathological social reality or malfunctioning perception of group identity but within her own body, about which it is so difficult to decide whether it was seriously beautiful or merely good. As Schikowski remarked (Vorwärts, 18 November 1927), she projected strength, rigor, and elegance, "lightly shadowed by a frail cloud of melancholy."

Jutta Klamt

Like Skoronel and Wigman, Jutta Klamt (1890–1970) associated modernity of expression with an "absolute" or "abstract" perception of dance, free of all pantomimic signification; like Feist, she equated ecstatic modernism


with a redemptive sense of purity. In 1925, Karl Grabe remarked: "Her dance comes from the depths of the most painful experiences and sinks into the depths, seeking one final expression, one final release of inner energy. A tragic seriousness pulses in her dances" (Stefan 93). Grabe compared her images of the human form to the great tragic heroines of Friedrich Hebbel and the paintings of Ferdinand Hodler. But despite her devotion to modernist aesthetics, hardly any other artist of modern dance was more enamored of Nazism or committed to the ideals of the Third Reich. She came to dance fairly late, and apparently the most painful experience of her life—the death of her mother, when Klamt was twenty—triggered in her an intense hunger to dance and to free the body from a terrible burden. She was completely self-taught, though she taught herself slowly; she did not give her debut concert, in Berlin, until January 1919. In 1920 a reviewer for the Berliner Börsen-Courier commented that "it is always like moonlight around her rich, silver blondness . . . a gravestone under bending cypress branches . . . Gretchen in prison . . . the often too pleasantly guided hands flutter palely away from the gray veil. . . . Everything elemental becomes soft, like in a dream . . . remains finally the timid smile of a sweet passivity." The writer recommended that she move more in the startling direction of her "nearly grotesque," black-wigged idol dance (KTP 4, 1920, 116–117).

But the grotesque did not suit her; if anything, her aesthetic became more somber. She opened a school in Berlin in 1920, and it became one of the most successful in Germany over the next two decades. In 1923 she collaborated with the Berlin Philharmonic in a huge, dark, tragic dancedrama, Der Aufschrei, in which she sought to purge her aesthetic of all pantomimic movement: "[T]he individual will of the leader does not command; the group breathes, sways, and lives as one in a closed totality. Effects are achieved only through the rhythm of forms and colors, sound and movement curves. . . . Line and color are the chief bearers of expression" (Stefan 93). Tänze der Nacht (1924) was an even darker and more lugubrious ensemble piece, in which dark-costumed dancers moved like shadows on a lunar stage that might as well have been lit by candles; it was as if Klamt sought to eclipse altogether the glowing blondness that dominated every perception of her body. In 1925 she married Joachim Vischer, who became her partner in the management of the school, and this circumstance seems to have infused her thinking with greater radiance, although she continued to pursue a stark, abstract, modernist notion of dance.

Her modernism was evident in the design by Cesar Domela, a De Stijl artist, of a 1928 brochure describing her school. The cover showed a black circle, on beige background, penetrated by two vertical lines, a black one from the top and a red one from the bottom; a third, black line touched the


circle from the right but did not penetrate it. The penetrating lines did not meet directly in the middle of the circle; rather the red line veered perpendicularly to the right to meet the unyielding black line. On each side of the circle appeared in red block letters the words "BERLIN" and "JUTTA KLAMT SCHULE" (Broos 91). The design created a bold sense of dance and dance study as a radically abstract conflict between elemental geometric forces, between line and curve, between relative powers seeking to penetrate the closed, inner, circular zone of connection. However, neither the curriculum for Klamt's school nor her aesthetic adopted the extreme purity of abstraction projected by Domela's design. For Klamt, abstraction entailed freeing the body from impersonation and narrative motives for movement: the body's expressive power became visible only when a story did not distract, interfere with perception. This attitude assumed that particular gestures, positions, or movements were inherently expressive of particular emotions or conditions, regardless of context (Freund 42–47). Ever since the death of her mother, Klamt had regarded dance as a way to free herself from an oppressive story, from the dominating account of someone else's life. Dance was freedom because it made the body into a symbol of those innately healthy emotions that narrative logic suppresses by compelling the body to read the self in the life of another person. Such thinking bestowed a predominately therapeutic value on dance.

In the early 1930s, Klamt and her husband became enthusiastic about National Socialism, and when Hitler assumed power they launched a body culture journal, Kontakt, which promoted a Nazi ideology of body consciousness by extolling the therapeutic significance of dance. In the first issue (January 1933, 33–40), Fritz Böhme repudiated ecstasy as the aim of modern dance. He claimed that an international, individualistic pursuit of ecstasy led to an excessive, constraining formalism that estranged dance from national and racial sources of identity, from a cultural bond between "blood and movement." The new task of modern dance was to develop a uniquely "German movement language" that elevated unifying social-communal identity over the futile search for a mythic and ecstatic individuality. Heide Woog echoed this point in the following issue (1/2 May 1933, 22–24): "The demand now resounds: away with all individuality—only then is it possible for us to grasp the urgent concept of mature life." Later (September 1933, 48–50) a director of a women's auxiliary of the Nazi Party in Thüringen proposed that "the dance of German woman must consciously free itself from sultry oriental mysticism, it must free itself from the libidinous ecstasy of religious hysteria ending in negro dances." Dance, she asserted, referred to the "rhythm of a noble life," the image of "a pure deep soul, the protector of everything good, the high moral power of a clear spirit, a strong will to struggle, which will trample the demons of life,"


and the "heart of the mother," whose "wings spread over all suffering" (C. Richter, 49).

In 1936, Klamt published Vom Erlebnis zum Gestalten, which attempted to explain the educational process or values that symbolically manifested the body's inner sources of energy as deindividualized, Volk -defined forms of bodily expression. She employed a mystical, aphoristic, therapeutic rhetoric of restoring strength and health to the female body—"a people gains its full strength through obedience to nature" (11)—but the breath-centered "German gymnastic" technique she promoted was a version of the contraction-and-release themes developed by Wigman and cultivated even in the United States by Martha Graham. Klamt spent most of the book describing the inner condition that motivated the dancer—it was always an image of strength and health modeled after an idealized racial identity given by "nature" and "the people." Her disdain for serious theory and intellectual challenge did not allow her to get beyond vacuous, inspirational platitudes, and she wound up reinforcing the comfortable belief that dance was for people with small brains; this conclusion probably did not worry her, for "[i]ntellectualism, which overwhelmed our concept of education, also began to transform the feminine racial ideal into an aberrant image" (17).

But in one sense, Klamt remained faithful to the image of modernist abstraction embodied by Domela's brochure design of 1928. She contended that two geometric forces dominated the body's relation to space: the line and the curve. The line symbolized will, desire, striving, release, whereas the curve, the circle, symbolized bond, fulfillment, completion, finality, unity (91–94). All dance entailed struggling combinations of lines and curves. But Klamt warned that strong dances could not emerge from a purely formal, rationalized perspective; one must always stay "obedient to a higher will" signified by an idealized racial identity. The photos in the book provided images of this identity, yet a curious tension marked them. Those pictures taken outdoors showed smiling women dancing alone or in duets or trios on grassy hills before a vast expanse of sky, across which moved masses of radiant white clouds. The camera viewed the bodies from a low angle to emphasize the sky rather than the earth. But pictures taken indoors conveyed an altogether darker mood, with women in dark garments performing in subdued light. Klamt apparently favored ensemble dances in which trios or even larger masses of bodies moved, in friezelike fashion, in columns and circles, traversing the performance space in different configurations of implosion and radiation, rupture and reformation, canon and countercanon. Here the camera tended to view the bodies from a point higher than eye level. The effect is of a mysterious cultic milieu in which the most differentiating feature of a dancer is her blondness . The somewhat somber frontispiece portrait of Klamt herself with her eyes closed, as if in a


trance, dramatizes this mysterious blondness even more powerfully than the indoor images of dancers.

Yet her dances of the 1930s disclosed more a religious than a fascist aura, as in Ex profundis (1930), Sieghaft (1933), Tanz der Andacht (1934), Religiöse Tänze (1934), Tanz der Stille (1935), and Gemeinsames Ziel (1935). In the latter piece women wore dark, satiny, abstract tunics or gowns and moved as if belonging to a strange, modern cult rather than to an undisguisedly fascist community (Figure 59). In the outdoors pictures, of course, the dancers project a generic, heroic image of health glorified by the Nazis. But these images were so generic that one had to read Klamt's text to situate them unambiguously within Nazi ideology. Klamt does not seem to have used specifically Nazi insignia or iconography in her dances; her distaste for narrative-pantomimic dancing prevented her from placing bodily expressivity within the context of a "story" about people who represent Nazi ideals and the struggle to validate them. Curiously, then, Nazism was an extension of her modern, personal struggle to escape entrapment within a story she did not and could not make herself.

During the Third Reich, Klamt and her school prospered from favors and privileges granted by the Nazi hierarchy, but even though the cultural landscape changed substantially after the war, Klamt continued to teach in Berlin, at the Free University, until 1968, when she retired to Switzerland to form another school, which still operates. She proved that modernist abstraction and Nazi ideology could coexist, as long as both modernism and Naziism remained subordinate to her larger therapeutic ambition. But the embrace of Nazism had much less auspicious consequences for Manda van Kreibig (1901–1990), whose aesthetic drifted toward the bizarre-grotesque rather than the tragic. After beginning dance lessons with Isadora Duncan at the age of five, she studied ballet under Heinrich Kröller in Munich and movement under Bode, but her early dances were grotesque travesties of ballet technique. In 1921 Elegante Welt (10/21, 12 October, 32) reported on a solo concert in Berlin in which she appeared in fantastic clown and ballet costumes designed by Munich artist Fritz Schaefler. She performed, with "mathematical exactness," an American Indian dance, a jazz dance, a dance in a "luxury nightclub," a comic dance of contrasts between balletic grace and a grotesque parody of gracefulness, and a dance concerning a "fury over a lost coin," which used music by Beethoven. Kreibig was ballet mistress at Darmstadt (1925–1928), Nuremberg (1928–1929), and Braunschweig (1929–1930) and participated in the dance experiments of the Bauhaus (1927–1929), from which emerged her most notable ensemble piece, Farbentanze (1929; music: Kuntzsch). In this work, six dancers applied ideas about the movement of colors and geometric forms Kreibig had gained from her collaboration with Schlemmer in Dessau. The resulting suite of dances combined ballet positions with extremely abstract visual designs that


presented the dancing body as a genderless, robotic expression of formal absolutism. In 1929 she suffered a severe stage accident that ended her career as a dancer. She joined the Nazi Party in 1931, but despite the strong influence of party officials she was unable to secure a serious position. Poverty-stricken, she retreated to San Remo, Italy, where she lived with relatives in complete obscurity and dependency until her death (DS 164–167, 174–176, 323; Mueller, "3. Deutscher Tanzerkongress," 21).

Another dancer who embraced Nazism was Heide Woog, whose abstractionism developed more in relation to sound than to visual or geometric forces. In 1923–1924 she led a dance group in Duisberg, which, according to a review in Hellweg (4/4, 23 January 1924, 71), produced images of "healthy femininity" leading to "nothing serious." Woog went off on her own and created a two-hour dance concert consisting of a single work, Der lebende Tempel (1924, music: Toch). In this piece she danced to speech, music, and an assortment of noises (devised by Karl Gothes), producing an odd tension between pantomimic drama and counteractive, antinarrative abstraction in which "a restlessly pulsing play of forms triumphs over theory and dogma" (Hellweg, 4/8, 20 February 1924, 143). This uncertainty about whether to pursue narrative or abstraction apparently fed a further ambivalence toward the ecstatic objective for dance. A reviewer for Die Schallkiste (3, 11 April 1928, 10) declared that the demonic and the ecstatic were the "power source of every dance" in contemporary culture, but Woog displayed this realization only "in moments" where a "free play of the body" struggled against constraints whose deepest cause was to be found perhaps in conflicts with theorems, but perhaps also in psychic regions. The boyish bravado which so happily fit her image of an Ephebe overturned her efforts to project the image of an innocent girl, "leading to a stiffness" that was "no longer restraint" but "dance in chains." Woog's uncertainty about the relation between narrative and abstraction, between ecstasy and stability, may therefore have derived from deeper ambiguities regarding her sexual identity.

She had a school in Mühlheim, where, like Klamt, she placed great emphasis on breathing as the basis for releasing "inner" and "healthy" sources of energy (Woog). Unlike Klamt, though, Woog enjoyed inserting explicitly Nazi symbols and iconography into her dances. Deutsche Mythe (1934), performed at the Duisburg Municipal Theatre, was a monumental, three-part "festival play" on the theme of "leadership and heroism" for speech and movement choirs, with music by Bernhard Zelter and text by Richard Euringer. The piece showed the aimless plodding of leaderless, suffering masses of humanity, "sunk in darkness," until the appearance, in a mysterious spotlight, of "The One," who moved with "somnambulistic certainty" and used his hypnotic aura to draw ever greater numbers of alienated, isolated individuals into a single, ecstatic, glorious community. Thus


unified by the hypnotic leader, the community in the third part of the drama performed spectacular round dances, marches, acrobatic stunts, battle dances, unfurling swastika flags, and surging choral images of human masses forged into the might of SA, Hitlerjugend, Wehrmacht, and "people's storm" units (MS 142–143). Weihe (1936), introduced at the International Dance Competition in Berlin, presented another glorification of Nazi unity, though with less concession to narrative order. It is difficult to say that Woog favored narrative at the expense of abstraction, for even Deutsche Mythe moved from narrated, pantomimic movement to an almost complete abstraction of humanity into formal designs modeled on and around the dominating symbols of Nazism, such as the swastika, the searchlight, the Hitler salute, and the stormtrooper pose and strut.

Rudolf Steiner

A different order of therapeutic mysticism prevailed in the movement theory of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), whose ideas exerted little impact on the German dance scene as a whole but nevertheless sustained an enduring cult of "anthroposophy," the appeal of which has by no means diminished since his death. Steiner coined the term "eurhythmics" to describe his approach to the perfection of bodily expressivity, although this word, derived from ancient Greek, had long been in use among Germans (Herder, Goethe) to categorize the study of aesthetic movement; Steiner's longtime associate and eventual wife, Marie von Sivers (1867–1948), has sometimes received credit for introducing the name (Veit 46–49). Eurhythmics, however, was but a small facet of a vast, comprehensive philosophy that sought to identify the conditions of salvation in a modern world wherein old religious doctrines had lost their credibility. Anthroposophy was a sort of holistic, Christian-Nirvanic-Dionysian search for the forms of thought, feeling, and action that connected the body to a cosmic sense of purpose. Steiner left hardly any area of life unexamined by his thinking; his complete writings (1954–1984) spanned 350 volumes and covered science, medicine, education, art, social planning, architecture, anthropology, theatre, and literature. But despite its stress on mobilizing mystical forces within the body and the cosmos, anthroposophy always presented itself as a theory of consciousness rather than an expression of religious faith.

Born in the Croation region of Austria-Hungary, Steiner began his career as an academic, specializing in the studying and editing of Goethe's scientific writings; his doctoral dissertation (1891) constructed a philosophy of freedom. While a lecturer at Wilhelm Liebknecht's Worker's School in Berlin in 1901, he turned his attention to the problem of identifying a new spirituality as pursued by the Theosophical Society of that city. For the next twelve years Steiner gave an enormous number of lectures throughout


Europe in which he explained the affinities between Christian and ancient religions, the mystical significance of organic forms, and the reform of intellectual development. The lecture was his medium; probably no one ever gave as many lectures on as many subjects as he did. Like Laban, he was a prodigious teacher but a weak scholar who expended his mental energies on innumerable lectures rather than on impressive research. He always conveyed a sense of analytical authority by introducing categories, concepts, and definitions, but he did not apply them with any systematic rigor—he preferred to move on to a new topic rather than lose his audience, often naive, in theoretical complexities. In 1913 he broke with the Theosophical Society and formed his own anthroposophical cult, with headquarters in Dornach, near Basel, where he supervised (1913–1921) the building of the famous anthroposophical temple, the Goetheanum, a huge wooden structure set among woods and orchards and made up of cavernous rooms modeled after organic forms, such as caves, shells, and cellular tissues. He gained adherents throughout Europe, perhaps because he showed the compatibility of mysticism and scientific rationalism; indeed, he disapproved of submission to unconscious powers, arguing that spiritual renewal depended on full consciousness of one's perceptions, feelings, and actions. When in 1922 the Goetheanum burned down, he immediately launched plans to build a new one in concrete and succeeded in raising funds from adepts around the world. But he did not live long enough to see it (Kugler).

Steiner had no formal training in dance, and he did not begin his adventures in "eurhythmic art" until 1912, when, in Munich, he collaborated with a nineteen-year-old dance student, Lory Smits, on exploring relations between vowel sounds and movements. Eurhythmics, according to Steiner, revealed "harmonic" connections between sound patterns in speech and the movement of the body. Whereas Klamt and Woog emphasized breathing as the primal sign of the body's inner power, Steiner stressed words. He remarked in 1908, "the word, which intones the soul, the logos, was there in the beginning, and the word so guides evolution until finally being emerges which can also appear. What finally appears in time and space was first there in spirit" (Veit 42). Music derived from tonal and rhythmic principles already embedded in speech, so spoken language disclosed the deepest, most secret bodily responses to sound. Movement made sound visible, and eurhythmics treated language as a "cosmos" of sound units, beginning with vowels and consonants, then words, syntactic structures, punctuation, sentences, meter, rhyme, alliteration, metaphor, hyberbole, recitation, and declamation, all of which corresponded to specific movement choices or combinations of movements. An elaborate process of symbolism bestowed emotional values upon sound units and structures, which then became associated with particular colors, organic and inorganic forms, creatures, planets, and abstract conditions (e.g., active or passive). For example, the letter


U (indigo) signified a sinking or deepening motion (arms bending parallel before the chest), whereas the letter T (yellow-red) signified a striking or pushing gesture. Letters were elements of a sound "scale," and different combinations of letters—words—produced different "chords" and rhythmic "intervals."

Not surprisingly, this approach, when applied to all the variables of speech, led to enormous complexities, which neither Steiner nor any of his adepts was able to put into helpful charts or tables. But Steiner's aim was not to provide a rigorous system of correspondences; rather, he sought to suggest complexities that encouraged people to become highly conscious of sounds and movements and to realize that even the slightest utterance or movement could reverberate with significance. In reality, his approach was too complex for his lecture-style language, which suited a writer with so many interests besides the almost incidental theme of eurhythmics. But, as Laban eventually discovered with the Kinetographie, the lecture style became hopelessly inadequate in accounting for all the expressive variables of the dynamic body. Steiner therefore relied heavily on drawings, many done in colored chalk, to describe movement possibilities and correspondences, especially for ensemble pieces. A great many of these drawings traced the image of movement without showing the body or bodies and thus transmitted a powerfully mysterious level of abstraction (Steiner). Few images have ever conveyed so persuasively the perception of movement as a mystical phenomenon. But these chalk sketches on slate backgrounds were an extension of Steiner's lecture style, and they emblematized a metaphysical dimension that scarcely seemed to correspond to the physical reality of actual bodies moving in specific times and spaces.

In spite of the implied complexity of the cosmic-word concept, the dance culture of the anthroposophists consistently projected an aura of simplicity. Steiner never stressed virtuosity of movement, nor did he push toward any professionalization of performance. He promoted a level of performance that strengthened the cultic identity of those already initiated into the mysteries of anthroposophy; an appeal to the uninitiated audience for professional dance and theatre held practically no interest for him, although he did not hesitate to give public demonstrations of eurhythmics throughout Europe. He regarded bodily movement as primarily a lyrical rather than dramatic action, "song made visible," which is to say that he and his adepts overwhelmingly favored "flowing" bodily movements and movements of the body in space. The body curved; arms and shoulders undulated; rows of bodies pulsed and surged; groups swelled or rippled into spirals, serpentine coils, arabesques; circles metamorphosed into stars, flowers, anemones, swirling disks, and intimations of stirring cosmic and "organic" forms. Both bodily and group movement were dominated by the image of waves, cur-


rents of water. The welter of tonal and rhythmic tensions in speech and language implied by Steiner's invocation of the "cosmic word" actually had little counterpart in tensions within or between moving bodies. But this lack of rigorous correspondence between theory and practice hardly troubled his adepts, for the arcane, convoluted mysteries defining the sound-world of speech signified a motive for movement rather than a system of it: indeed, the more complex the system became, the more it signified a mystery to which the body responded with a pliant flow of energy rather than with a compatible or congruent manifestation of complexity.

Eurhythmic dancers favored long, flowing costumes—robes, chitons, gowns, capes, veils—following images of ancient Greek maenads, sacerdotal Egyptians, or Romanesque-medieval figures, except that Steiner imposed a cryptic color symbolism on the fabrics. Steiner had staged "mystery plays" since 1889, when he directed his own adaptation of a Goethe fairy tale. He subsequently staged, for festival-cultic occasions, productions such as Eduard Shure's Eleusis (1907), scenes from Goethe's Faust (1915–1916), and Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (1923), in which he applied some eurhythmic principles. He also staged fairy-tale dramas of his own composition: Die Pforte der Einweihung (1910), Die Prüfung der Seele (1911), Der Hüter der Schwelle (1912), and Der Seelen Erwachen (1913). However, strictly eurhythmic performance evolved slowly. Steiner spent several years testing his ideas with Lory Smits, and during World War I, when the anthroposophists expended much of their energy on constructing the Goetheanum, resources for performance remained scarce. Thus, after an initial demonstration in Munich in August 1913, Steiner gave no more demonstrations of eurhythmic art until August 1918. The fantastically cavernous Goetheanum was able to provide a most appropriate setting to support Steiner's claim that "every artistic dance derives originally from the old art of temple dances, those cultic dances which were performed in the temples of the old high cultures" (Froböse 35). In the 1913 recital, featuring the movements of Lory Smits and two other women, bodies moved entirely to the sound of recited poetry by Goethe and Brentano. But by 1918, Steiner was including musical accompaniments, composed by adepts, that sometimes underscored the speaking of poetry by Goethe, Hebbel, Morgenstern, Meyer, or Nietzsche. From 1919 to 1923, Steiner gave demonstration recitals in Dornach, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam, Oxford, Prague, and numerous German cities, with Tatiana Kisseleff as his star dancer and Marie von Sivers as his chief reciter.

It is difficult to determine how many people actually performed in the group dances or how the dances on any program differed from each other; most dances bore the titles of the poems that accompanied them, and most documentation of the concerts focused on the concept of eurhythmics


rather than on the execution of the concept. (Photo documentation is unusually scant in relation to the abundant documentation of Steiner's eurhythmic drawings and watercolors.) In her memoirs, Kisseleff recalled the initial—and not altogether friendly—reception of public (not cultic) audiences, which tended toward bewilderment, and she observed that even within the Anthroposophical Society many people disliked Marie von Sivers's portentous manner of reciting poetry (Veit 69–72).

Shortly before Steiner's death, Else Klink (b. 1907) began studying at the newly founded Eurhythmeum in Stuttgart under one of Steiner's protégés, Annmarie Dubach-Donath (1895–1972). After two years (1927–1929) at the Goetheanum, Klink accepted an invitation to work at the Steiner institute in The Hague; she remained until 1935, when she returned to Stuttgart to direct the activities of the Eurhythmeum (Veit 77–110). While Steiner was alive, male adepts apparently functioned as musicians and scenic artists on eurhythmic performances, and women did the actual performing. But when von Sivers and Klink assumed greater authority within the Anthroposophical Society, men became more prominent figures in the performance of dances, and music assumed greater significance than words as a motive for movement, although the "cosmic word" still retained theoretical primacy. The Nazis banned the Anthroposophical Society in 1935 but permitted eurhythmic instruction at the Eurhythmeum until 1941, during which time enrollment at the school rose from twenty to eighty students. The Gestapo was ever suspicious of eurhythmics and of Klink, whose dark, "un-Aryan" features led to a scheme in 1937 to replace her with a former Wigman student, Martha Morell, who refused to cooperate. In 1941 the Gestapo finally shut down the school and assigned Klink, her associate Otto Wiemer, and her students to factory labor for the duration of the war. In the immediate postwar era, Klink revived the school at the Eurhythmeum and carried on the cultic performance tradition into the 1980s, by which time Steiner's philosophy had returned to the German cultural scene with perhaps even greater popularity than it enjoyed in the 1920s.

Eurhythmics was obviously more important than nearly all dance histories suggest. Though it did not exert substantial influence on German dance culture or produce any powerful dance personalities, it did establish bodily movement as a redemptive mystery accessible to all people as long as they believed in the anthroposophical philosophy as a whole. Neither an elaborate technique nor a powerful expressivity bestowed value upon eurhythmic dance; rather, eurhythmic dance bestowed an aura of exclusivity upon its humble performers. Such dance always functioned within the context of the temple, of a grandiose synthetic doctrine that separated the initiated from those who were blind to a mystery that transcended the banality of the physical world. Through eurhythmics, dance allowed mystery to become a visible feature of ordinary, daily life.


Gertrud Bodenwieser

Expressionism presented modernist abstraction as a primal image of inner psychic or spiritual conditions. Klamt and Steiner represented almost antithetical political variants of abstractionism in this key. But expressionism sometimes linked abstraction to heightened conditions of mechanization rather than spirituality. Skoronel insisted that in her case mechanization referred to formal properties of movement rather than to the theme of machines or industrialization, but expressionist performance did not remain entirely indifferent to relations between bodies and machines, as was evident in such prominent dramas as Kaiser's Gas (1918–1920), Capek's[*]RUR (1920), Toller's Die Maschinenstürmern (1922), and Bronnen's Anarchie in Sillien (1924), Max Brand's opera Maschinist Hopkins (1929), and Fritz Lang's film Metropolis (1927). As late as 1934, one could see in Braunschweig a full-length ballet, Menschenmaschinen , by the genial Hungarian composer Eugene Zador (1894–1977). Unlike futurism, however, which glorified machines, expressionism projected a skeptical attitude toward their salvational power, even though, in the theatre at least, expressionism relied extravagantly on new performance technologies to construct its messages.

Dämon Maschine (1924) was probably the most famous "machine dance" performed in Germany during the Weimar era, but its creator, Gertrud Bodenwieser (1890–1959) resided in Vienna. Though she converted to Catholicism early in life, she came from an affluent, cultivated Jewish family influential in financial circles, and she eventually married a Jewish theatre director, Friedrich Rosenthal. From childhood she enjoyed contact with modernist art and music personalities in Vienna; the artists Felix Harta and Franz von Bayros collaborated with her on the designs for some of her early dances. Between 1905 and 1910 she studied ballet under Carl Godlewski, ballet master at the Vienna Royal Opera, but the reactionary insulation of Viennese ballet from virtually any modernist impulse in dance meant that most of her "teachers" were dancers she observed at concerts or learned about through readings and photographs. She matured quite slowly, for she did not give her debut concert, at a modernist art gallery for an invited audience, until 1919. The program contained only six dances, but she received an enthusiastic critical response; yet she did not give her next concert, again presenting only six dances, until two years later. In 1922 she ventured into pair dancing in a recital with Ernst Walt, who was actually a composer, but neither solo nor pair dancing accommodated her ambitions, and the only other dance in which she performed with a man (Curt Hagen) was Konstrucktivistisches Liebeslied (1928, music: Poulenc). Group dance was her passion. So in 1923 she formed a school and ensemble in the basement of the Vienna Concert House, which remained her headquarters until 1938 (MacTavish 15–20).


Her school, she asserted, embraced expressionism wholeheartedly and did not focus "one-sidedly" on the cultivation of "gracefulness," nor did it adopt any of the prewar Grecian dance styles as a model for a new dance art. Bodenwieser saw dance as an image of the modern world in which she lived: "I want in my dances struggle, passion, Dionysiacally intensified feeling for life, but also chaos, horror, and degeneration" (Stefan 95). With her ensemble she choreographed an enormous number of pieces, and the company visited an astounding number of European cities, perhaps more than any other Germanic dance group of the era, especially in such countries as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Belgium; it also visited New York, France, England, Holland, and gave the first Germanic ensemble productions in Japan (1934). Wherever the Bodenwieser group appeared, it signified a self-consciously modernist attitude toward performance, informed by avant-garde tendencies in the visual arts and an openness to contemporary music. When the Nazis annexed Austria, she knew she no longer had a future in Europe, so she and her husband went into exile, along with several of her students, first to France, where she formed a new group, then to Venezuela and Colombia, for a concert tour that even included performances in a bullfight ring. Her husband stayed behind in France to do radio work, but two years later he disappeared after the Gestapo arrested him. Bodenwieser, at the invitation of one of her students, had traveled to New Zealand and Australia, which became her home for the rest of her life. In Sydney she soon established another school and became one of the strongest personalities in the modern dance scene of Australia and New Zealand, producing about a hundred dance works in less than twenty years.

Though Bodenwieser choreographed an astonishing number of group dances before she left Austria, Dämon Maschine remained her most famous achievement and the work upon which perception of her as an avant-garde artist rested. This piece contained all the major features of her dance aesthetic, and her prolific output was perhaps based on her skill in constructing manifold variations of these features. But the piece projected a peculiar relation to abstraction. Originally, Dämon Maschine was the second part of a four-part cycle of dances, Gewalten des Lebens (1924), whose first part, Ein Wesen , dated from her brief partnership with Ernst Walt in 1922. However, the second part attracted so much fascination that the cycle as a whole often became identified as Dämon Maschine . Bodenwieser began presenting the second part independent of its context, even though the cycle constituted a dramatic narrative that disclosed an overarching, controlling attitude toward machines. The second part unwittingly showed the power of abstraction to undermine narrative unity, yet Bodenwieser's notion of abstraction was hardly extreme, for she never allowed it to undercut her enthusiasm for decorative theatricality. In the first part, two figures, He and She, wearing


light-blue veils, made swinging motions together to "dreamy" music by Debussy. (In group performance, a woman danced the male figure.) According to Bodenwieser, "The body of the woman softly repeats the rhythm of the man. He reaches high and grasps at the stars. But already the half-sunken beings [around the couple] reach with the same desire into the ether. Full of ardor, the man kneels humbly before life. And she with him." With the couple, a "common destiny weaves them into asingle being," and the "great swaying of life urges them toward a final and scarcely intimated abyss" (RLM 181).

The second part, "Dämon Maschine," employed gong and percussion music by Lisa Mayer and showed how machines destroyed the unity of being achieved by the couple. Six dancers turned their bodies into images of machines: gears, levers, pumps, pistons, pulverizers, dynamos. Five of the dancers wore abstractly colored briefs and long-sleeved tops that exposed much flesh and thus reinforced the perception of the body as a machine; the sixth dancer wore a dark, "demonic" uniform, looking somewhat like a robot. Bodies functioned as parts of a single "machine"; they intertwined and joined mechanically through complicated, contortionistic relations among kneeling, squatting, kicking, grasping, thrusting, squirming, hammering, and interlocking, moving from lying to standing positions, from profile to full face. A group was a carnal machine—and quite decorative, too (Renner 53–54) (Figure 60).

The third part presented "the golden calf" (music: Petyrek). Here two bodies formed a single idol, with four arms, a crown, and a "golden aura." Around the idol danced five Corybants: "Lust from tip-toes to fingertips. . . . Throbbing, ecstasy, frenzy, impotence, collapse. The idol grins victoriously" (RLM 182). In the final part (music: Mussorgski), "the oppressed, the defeated, the confused, the devastated. Frost passes through the column of the outcast. The priestess strides through the group. The glow of reason and good streams through the darkness," in the manner of a painting by Massacio. What probably made the machine dance so popular was its erotic decorativeness. The piece did not, as in revue dancing, rely on chorus-line synchronicity of movement to suggest mechanization of identity and feeling. Rather, bodies formed different patterns of synchronicity and counterpoint with each other to create a pulsing, mutant machine-organism of ecstatic intensity, amplifying both the desireability and the demonic power of female bodies.

The piece was never so abstract that one lost sight of the theatrical imitation of a machine. Bodenwieser always remained devoted to theatrical effects; indeed, she advocated closer relations not between dance and opera-ballet but between dance and the literary theatre (Stefan 58–59). For Karlheinz Martin and Friedrich Rosenthal, she "choreographed" actions and inserted dances into productions of otherwise danceless plays by


Raimund, Wedekind, and Kokoschka, and she designed a dance for Friedrich Kiesler's experimental, spiral Raumbühne in 1924. But in spite of her declared distaste for gracefulness, she never detached her theatricality from decorativeness and elegant pictorial effects derived from her familiarity with modernist art trends; these made her dances seem advanced and sophisticated without being especially demanding or disturbing. In her solo "cubistic dance" (1923), she wore a bizarre costume of conical sleeves and pants, but the music was by the American romantic composer Edward MacDowell! Her image of the machine was peculiarly lyrical, drawing on a Viennese tradition of curvilinear beauty exemplified earlier by Grete Wiesenthal; her introductory dance course began with the study of figure-8 spiral movements (Brown 16). She created a huge quantity of charming adaptations of folk, social, and cabaret dances that pleased audiences as much in London or Crakow as in Vienna. These contrasted almost absurdly with her ambitious, mystical-allegorical dance cycles, usually in three parts, such as Biblische Themen (1923), Gotische Suite (1928, music: Glück), Schwingungsaustausch (1930, music: Lorber), Rhythmen des Unbewussten (1928, music: Wellesz), Die grosse Stunden (1931, music: Tcherepnin), and Drei Tanzsymbolen (1933, music: Bortkievich). Strömung und Gegenströmung (1928), whose three parts were titled "Mysticism," "Mechanization," and "Decadence," was another machine dance based on Henry Ford's principles of automated factory labor, but this piece provoked less favor than others had, perhaps because it lacked decorativeness. A Rumanian reviewer remarked: "With shining eyes, girls wander happily in pairs. Demonic mechanization emerges. Sucks them into its black-red song. Compels them to convulsive gliding, stamping, and swinging, to pushing and shoving." The orgiastic bacchanal of the "decadence" part ended in paralyzed impotence (MacTavish 37). The narrative for this strange cycle suggested that mechanization arose out of mysticism, out of the mysterious unity of the couple, and destroyed it as well as the couple; mechanization awakened in the body a hunger for a monstrous ecstasy, leading inevitably to decadence, from which no one could expect salvation or a redemptive light.

A recurrent feature of Bodenwieser's group dances was the absence of a leader figure, a major contrast to Wigman's ensemble aesthetic. However, her mystical image of the couple appeared even stranger than most embodiments and was not without a strong homoerotic aura. Bodenwieser liked images of intertwining female bodies—pillars, pyramids, friezes of conjoined or interlocking bodies—which produced a curiously contorted, arabesque view of feminine being as multilimbed, multiheaded, and multimirrored, an effect beautifully captured in popular photographs taken by the D'Ora-Benda studio (Faber, Tanzfoto , 66–69). But Bodenwieser especially stressed the looping, cradling, embracing, nudging, plying, rubbing, and prodding of bodies, often in kneeling or reclining positions, with pairs


and sometimes trios of dancers, most obviously in Ich und Du (1935), Wiegenlied der Muttererde (1934), Tanz mit goldenen Scheiben (1934), Die Masken Luzifers (1936), and Tanz der drei Schwestern (1928). For Bodenwieser, the mystical coupling of bodies entailed a lyrical mechanization of movement—ecstasy, one might say, depended on the decorative coupling of mysticism and mechanization.

The intertwining of female bodies also appeared, to a lesser degree, in the work of other dancers in Vienna, such as Ellen Tels and Ellinor Tordis, and in the work of Gisa Geert and Hilde Holger, both students of Bodenwieser. Holger (b. 1905) danced in the first production of Damon Maschine , and her ensemble aesthetic relied strongly on the Bodenwieser device of intertwined bodies creating a "single being." This device appeared most emphatically, perhaps, in Orchidee (1933, music: Ravel), though it also pervaded her choreography of Mechanisches Ballett in 1926, with music by Hirschfeld-Mack. Holger, too, came from a cultivated Jewish family, which brought her in touch with prominent Viennese artists and intellectuals such as Stefan Zweig, Elias Canetti, and Erni Kniepert, and she posed nude for modernist artists such as Felix Harta, Benedikt Dolbin, and Joseph Heu and the photographer Antios (Takvorian 18–19). Yet a peculiar timidity marked her dance aesthetic and her performance productivity. In 1926 she left the Bodenwieser group and formed her own school and ensemble in the Ratibor Palace in Vienna. Unlike Bodenwieser, however, Holger ventured eventually to infuse her mysticism with overtly Jewish themes, which appeared in the solo Hebräischer Tanz (1929, music: Weprik), Kabbalistischer Tanz (1933, music: Rieti), Ahasver (1936, music: Rubin), and Golem (1937, music: Wilckens).

Holger's perception of bodily movement owed less to the image of the machine than to the image of the marionette, particularly after she became friends with Richard Teschner (1879–1948), the Viennese designer of masks, figurines, and marionettes. Teschner's eerily exquisite fairy-tale figurines inhabited a fantastic miniature theatrical world ("Figuren-Spiegel") of rococo, Arabian Nights , and Indonesian puppet ornamentality. Holger began to introduce masks and historicizing costume details that made her dances appear less abstract, as in her solos for Javanesische Impression (1931) and Golem . Much of her group work in Vienna was for children, and it was not until she went into exile in 1939 and gave up solo dancing altogether that she disclosed any expansive confidence in group dance to embody her desires. She spent the war years in Bombay, where she formed a school and put on concerts, then (1948) migrated to London, which became her permanent home (her husband, an Indian, was a physician). There she opened another school (1951), which operated continuously into the late 1980s. Unlike Bodenwieser, Holger liked working with male students and dancers, one of whom was the wild English theatre director Lindsay Kemp (b. 1939).


But wildness was precisely what Holger's aesthetic lacked. Her reluctance to push herself beyond the devices of Bodenwieser and Teschner apparently resulted from her sense, throughout her life, of having to move cautiously, with marionette decorum, in societies (rather than close-knit circles) that were permanently foreign to her (including Vienna) and easily capable, as she herself suggested, of "misunderstanding" almost any serious bodily movement of modernity (Takvorian 37).

Kurt Jooss

With Kurt Jooss (1901–1979), expressionist dance avoided both abstraction and influences from modernist art yet explored themes of social alienation and anxiety. Indeed, Jooss acquired an exaggerated reputation as a satiric commentator on (or caricaturist of) social role-playing because he respected traditional narrative models for framing bodily movement. His modernism therefore depended on his situating expressionistically distorted images of contemporary social types within a premodern narrative structure.

Jooss was born on a farm near Stuttgart but never showed any serious interest in farming; even so, a vaguely agrarian-guildish (rather than cultic) notion of community shaped his aesthetic and perception of social reality. At first he considered a career as an artistic photographer, then (1919) focused on singing and drama at the Stuttgart Academy of Music. But "something was missing everywhere, and I no longer believed in my dream of the arts" (Markard 29). He therefore resolved to return to the family farm. However, as soon as he made the vow he encountered Laban in Stuttgart, and although Jooss was, as he put it, "heavy, phlegmatic, and totally without muscles," his "whole being gradually became a part of this art," to the extent that "my body changed." On the farm again, he could think only of dance, and he experienced the most intense suffering of his entire life. Shortly after his father died, Jooss could no longer live apart from dance, so in 1922 he rejoined Laban in Stuttgart and followed him to Mannheim, then Hamburg, where he met Sigurd Leeder, who had collaborated with Jutta von Collande. Early in 1924, Jooss and Leeder formed the only male pair dance couple in German dance, but it was not until 1926–1927 that they actually devised the program "Two Male Dancers," comprising solos and four duets, all apparently grotesque. The composer Marcel Lorber, who worked so closely with Bodenwieser in Vienna, accompanied them on the piano. But the tour collapsed when Jooss injured his knee.

By this time, however, he had other tasks to fulfill. His close connection to Laban recommended him to the innovative opera director Hanns Niedecken-Gebhard in Münster, where in 1924 Jooss had choreographed


his first notable ensemble piece, the Tels-Wellesz Persisches Ballett , with Yvonne Georgi and Jens Keith. Jooss and Leeder worked with a small corps of six men and ten women on modernistic operatic and dance works by Hindemith, Toch, and Wellesz; Jooss supplemented these pieces with large and small scenarios of his own composition, primarily of a grotesque and satirical nature. After observing ballet schools in Paris and Vienna, Jooss and Leeder began to incorporate ballet technique into their pedagogy and productions, although Jooss continued to regard ballet as "dead from within" (35). In 1927 the city of Essen invited Jooss and Rudolf Schulz-Dornberg to establish a subsidized arts school, the Folkwangschule, with Jooss as director of a dance studio aiming to integrate dance and theatre—"Tanztheater." At Essen he gathered about him a team of collaborators whose talents were manifest at Münster: Leeder, the scenic designer Hein Heckroth (1901–1970), the composer Fritz Cohen (1904–1967), and the Estonian dancer Aino Simola (1901–1971), whom Jooss married in 1929. Jooss further consolidated dance and theatre by working with the conductor Toscanini and Laban on the Paris version of the Tannhäuser Bacchanale (1930) and by accepting appointment as ballet director of the Essen Municipal Opera, for which the Folkwang dance company performed all ballets. Then he appeared as a dancer-actor in stage productions of Kaiser's Europa (1931) and Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (1931), in which he played Puck. With The Green Table (1932), Jooss produced his most popular international work, winning first prize and 25,000 francs at the Concours de Choreographie in Paris.

At this point Jooss detached his dance company from the subsidized theatre and formed the Ballets Jooss, which toured several Rhineland cities, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Paris, London. Nazi press and propaganda, however, expressed virulent hostility toward Jooss, primarily because he collaborated with Jews, but because his company enjoyed no subsidies it was not until September 1933 that the Gestapo moved to arrest him—in vain, for Jooss and his entire company of twenty-three persons had sneaked across the Dutch border. In 1934, Lord Elmhirst invited Jooss and his company to make their headquarters in Dartington Hall, Devon, England, where the company remained until 1942, realizing "Jooss's early dream of an academy of the arts in a rural setting" (Coton 56). But financial pressures compelled the company to tour almost continuously from 1934 to 1940 throughout Europe, South America, the United States, Canada, England, and Ireland. Probably no other dance company in the world reached such a large international audience, although the repertoire consisted primarily of works created before 1933. For reasons of national security, the company moved to Cambridge in 1942, and Jooss served in the British Army. The Ballets Jooss returned to Europe and America in 1946 as part of the British Army entertainment services, and Jooss himself became a British citizen in


1947. In 1949 he accepted another invitation from Essen to direct the dance activities of the Folkwangschule; by 1953, however, the city claimed it could not longer fund the company. After a stint at the Düsseldorf Opera (1954– 1956), he devoted himself entirely to teaching until the 1960s, when state subsidies allowed for the establishment of the Folkwangballet. By this time Jooss enjoyed the reputation of a revered master teacher who synthesized Ausdruckstanz and ballet through the concept of "dance theatre." His most famous student was Pina Bausch (b. 1940), probably the greatest dance artist to emerge from Germany since the Weimar years. When he retired from the Folkwangschule, in 1968, Jooss continued to lecture and hold master classes internationally; his daughter, Anna Markard (b. 1931), supervised the elaborate documentation of his legacy. At the end of his career he seemed to have no enemies and no serious challenges to his perspective; he was always a "sweet" man, gentle, patient, persistent, friendly, and sensible, free of fanaticism and abundantly blessed with quiet, healthy optimism.

As an artist, Jooss was skeptical of "barbaric Ausdruckstanz " and believed by 1924 that "the creative adventures of expressionism lie behind us" (Markard 15). He therefore followed a vision of "New Dance" in which a Platonic sense of order was no longer incompatible with modern bodily expressivity (Coton 30–31). At the heart of Jooss's aesthetic was "a creative compromise between free personal expression and formal compliance with objective, intellectual laws," "a compromise in the noblest sense, which one can likewise designate as axial to the world of art" (Markard 17). For Jooss, compromise meant a synthesis of dance and theatre achieved through a synthesis of Ausdruckstanz and ballet. But Jooss's concept of ballet was somewhat ambiguous, for by it he did not mean an elaborately rigid system for automating bodily movement within an extravagantly artificial performance space. He loved the idea of laws governing movement, but he wanted a "gestural training based on natural laws of mimicry and expression," so that movement always appeared "new" and "natural" at every moment of performance (Coton 72).

In practice, this notion of compromise supposed that expressive power derived from the observation and perfection of socially coded bodily movements in daily and ceremonial life. In the rather abstract Larven (1925) and Groteske (1925), Jooss used masks and eccentric costume details to render bizarrely comic the idealizing gestures and poses of ballet—with, for example, a female dancer performing on pointe pirouettes in a specially constructed dress that made her look like a dwarf, with the other four dancers amplifying the perception of a community unified only through a grotesquely extravagant respect for conventionalized signification of heroism and grace. In these cases, costume largely designated movement as grotesque. But in Kaschemme (1926) and Tangoballade (1926), costume


scarcely departed from what the dancers might actually wear on the street; instead, movements from popular social dances became powerfully exaggerated, with female couples dancing passionately, eyes closed, as in Kaschemme , or in a kind of somnambulatory line, as in Tangoballade . In Pavanne (1929), with its lavish sixteenth-century costumes, Jooss showed that exaggerations of conventionalized decor and movement could operate in a tragic as well as grotesque mood (although the intense sadness of Ravel's music probably dominates perception of any movement it accompanies to such an extent that I think it impossible for anyone to produce a grotesque-comic dance using the piece).

Jooss sought a compromise between abstraction and "naturalness," and this he achieved above all by emphasizing the restoration of conventional narrative strategies as the chief source of value and motivation for dance. As early as 1924 he was willing to assert that "the dance pantomime is the actual theatre form of dance" ("Der grüne Tisch," 22). The exaggerated perfection of socially coded movements transformed the body into a recognizable social type (or caricature) whose actions produced an easily readable story. It was not pantomime so much as the "natural" consequence of exaggerating the social codes signifying various emotions and motives, regardless of their historical context. Jooss did not confine himself to a contemporary image of the world. The Prodigal Son (1931), for example, with music by Prokofiev and choreography by Balanchine (originally done for Diaghilev in 1929), presented a vaguely biblical parable about a young man whose acquisition of glory and power leads to his corruption and then his betrayal by his followers. A Mysterious Stranger, who earlier had tried to dissuade the young man from his dream of power, finds refuge for him among a community of harlots, then denounces him to an underworld mob. Alone and penniless, the man journeys wearily back to the home of his father but meets the Mysterious Stranger along the way. This time he repudiates his enigmatic "friend." Here, as in subsequent works, Jooss disclosed an acutely ambivalent attitude toward the pursuit of power and leadership, but he had difficulty constructing an image of community that effectively justified or neutralized his ambivalence.

This ambivalence toward the power and ambition of leaders reached maximum intensity in the great international hit The Green Table (1932, music: Cohen), an expressionist satire on political power-brokering inspired, according to Jooss, by the medieval dance of death. The dance drama contained eight scenes showing the triumph of Death over all who followed their leaders to war. The first depicted ten diplomats in formal attire and distorted masks "negotiating" around a green table: "They smile, persuade, flatter, argue, then rage at one another. They threaten and gesticulate wildly with harsh, puppet-like movements which stress the unreality of the emotions to which they pretend. They go through a formula of discussion; they


understand, they apologize, they resume their chattering until their mutual hatred impels to a mutual rage. At this point they leave the table, pacing up and down, back and forth, with the agitation of bantam cocks or the wariness of foxes" (Coton 49). This description indicates how Jooss's idea of building dances around socially coded movements actually entailed an almost cartoonish exaggeration of conventional (or "formal") significations to suggest the demonic insincerity of gestural signs, an observation reinforced by archival film footage of the dance and by videotape documentation of the Joffrey Ballet's 1976 reconstruction. Subsequent scenes depicted the call to arms, the farewell, military training, the battle, a brothel, "the dark roads where wander the homeless and stricken refugees," and the return of the ridiculous diplomats. The two major figures were the War Profiteer and Death, who form a macabre partnership that concludes with a chess game won by Death, who gathers up all the pieces along with the Profiteer. Originally played by Jooss himself, Death appeared in all the scenes, "sapping desire, corrupting ability, as he hovers in the background or stalks steadily, mechanically and undeviatingly through scenes of battle, flight, or surrender" (49). Death was played by a nearly naked dancer who had a skeleton painted onto his body and wore a sort of centurion hat, boots, and a black pelvis/rib cage. Though the diplomats looked contemporary, the figures in all the other scenes projected vaguely archaic and definitely premodern images—except for the Profiteer, who wore a bowler and a T-shirt and resembled more a habitué of a boxing gym than a figure from a corporate boardroom. For Jooss, the desire for power entailed the heightened expression of insincerity, which led to catastrophic misunderstandings and conflicts (war). Death, the ultimate power figure, controlled the destinies of societies; a leader was someone whose body moved in accordance with the grand ambition of Death to take everyone with him. This attitude was quite at odds with that of Wigman in the spectacular Totenmal (1930), in which the (female) leader established her command over groups (movement choirs) through movements signifying a heroic confrontation with Death rather than a foolish blindness to it.

With The Big City (1932), Jooss moved toward a more cinematic narrative style that dispensed altogether with the figure of the leader and the theme of ambition as the measure of identity. Here he presented a complex image of a modern society defined and unified above all through sexual desire: "We see typists and clerks, the newsboy and prostitutes, factory girls and working lads; elegant and would-be-elegant men of leisure, a few tramps and fanatics, a sprinkling of touts, beggars and street vendors walk, loiter, amble or trot briskly along. It is the evening cross-section of Main Street anywhere, made up almost entirely of those whose lives are too formless, or whose pockets are too light, to enjoy solitude or leisure" (Coton 40). In the midst of this crowded scene appear a Young Girl and a Young Worker,


lovers, who dance romantically and innocently until the entrance of the Libertine, who casts his suave spell upon the Young Girl and entices her away, leaving the Young Worker impotently enraged. The ensuing scene depicted, with much use of magnified shadows, the Libertine bestowing an expensive gift (a party dress) on the Young Girl in her tenement neighborhood. When the Young Girl departs momentarily to change into the dress, the street urchins display a peculiar capacity to resist the seductive charm of the Libertine and perceive his insincerity. The Young Girl returns and dances with the Libertine into the night while the children and mothers point accusatorially at the couple. The final scene takes place in a dance hall, "where stupid, doll-like youths and girls stamp and contort through graceless motions of a debased kind of ballroom dance" (41). The Girl and the Libertine appear and dance orgiastically. Then the music becomes melancholy, and the ballroom figures metamorphose into proletarian couples, who perform a kind of tragic waltz of futility. The Young Worker enters and dances with different partners, seeking the Young Girl, but in the end he dances all alone; dancers from both classes become mere shadows, while "the maddening stupid rhythm goes on and on, marked by the even stamp and shuffle of the dancing automatons" (44).

This rather rural vision of big city life was, according to Coton, "built on all variations of human locomotion—prancing, shuffling, ambling, gliding, hesitant, bold, furtive—and a style of freely rhythmic and unstressed dance which show[ed] more elasticity but less elevation, little line but plenty of roundness, in comparison with classical Ballet" (44). Moreover, Jooss used "long cross-stage lines and full-stage circles," with "small circles opposed to, or built towards, large circular movements," to suggest "characters moving inside space, rather than against a background" (45). Thus, although Jooss offered a conventionally negative representation of female class mobility through erotic desireability, the movement of an entire social class was signified by intricate circular patterns—especially of multiple couples and trios—rather than by the synchronicity of feeling and action that conventionally signified "class" in theatrical performance. This work indicated that the use of socially coded movements to shape dance was synonymous with the representation of conditions of loneliness, alienation, futility, and disillusionment, an attitude cultivated with even greater intensity in the postmodern dance aesthetic of Pina Bausch.

With A Ball in Old Vienna (1932, music: Lanner), Jooss satirized the conventions of the courtly waltz in a nostalgic atmosphere of the 1840s. By exaggerating its movements, he implied that the waltz disguised the desire to assert power over an entire social class: one asserted power over the body of one's partner in a context elaborately contrived to produce this disguise—the ball. For Jooss, dance itself implied an intensely physical "fascination in the actions and reactions of those people, at any social level, who


are able to exercise practically unlimited power over others" (53). In Ballade (1935, music: Colman) he returned to the tragic, medieval mood of Pavanne , full of somberly ceremonial movement, but this time he pitted two couples—King and Queen, Marquis and Marquise—against each other, with a virtually static Queen provoked to a display of "awful power" by a trivial indiscretion of the King and the Marquise. The Mirror (1936, music: Cohen), however, told a contemporary story of three men—the Man of Leisure, the Middle-class Man, and the Laborer—comrades during the war, who return to their homes to find expanding misery, poverty, and unemployment. The unemployed Laborer abandons his wife to a life of prostitution; the Middle-class Man attempts to form a political movement uniting bourgeois and proletarian interests, but the workers repudiate him. An encounter with the wife-whore awakens in the Middle-class Man the authority he needs to lead a full-scale revolution against the capitalists. But total chaos results, and the three men, united by pervasive social suffering, find themselves comrades again. Chronica (1939, music: Goldschmidt) followed an even more complicated plot, set in the Italian Renaissance, about a stranger who gains the confidence of influential citizens to become leader of a city. However, when he resorts to despotic measures to restore social order, he unwittingly provokes conspiracies, treasons, revolution, madness, and the sacrifice of his life.

In these later works of the 1930s, Jooss apparently wished to test the capacity of dance to construct unprecedentedly complex narratives and psychological states. The narratives became more convoluted, but the movements of the dancers did not: his repertoire of movements included hardly anything beyond the social codes he had already explored in pre-1933 works. It was thus evident that narrative complexity had little to do with choreographic complexity, semantic density, or expressive power, an indication that Jooss's belief in conventional narrative as the force synthesizing dance and theatre was perhaps excessively optimistic. Pandora (1944, music: Gerhard) nevertheless constructed another elaborate allegory, in three acts, in which the beautiful but evil Pandora corrupts the People with her mysterious box. Pandora releases all sorts of monsters on the world and persuades the masses to sacrifice their children to the Machine God; a lone Young Man remains ever-faithful to the virtuous but remote Psyche. Only in a context of complete destruction and desolation is it possible for the Young Man to assert power over the People and banish Pandora. But this sort of morality drama, saturated with intricate plot twists, could not disguise a fundamentally ruralistic oversimplification of tensions between leader and group, with "good" authority over the People dependent above all on loyalty to the unerotic visions of innocence cultivated by youth rather than on desire for a magnitude of love that "insincere," conflict-ridden social codes deny people. Jooss was skillful in exposing socially coded movement, but he


lacked the imagination, so strong in Wigman, to perceive the power of movement to differentiate bodies, to free bodies from social codes; he failed to create in movement, rather than in a story, a convincing representation of human salvation and freedom.

Like every gifted student of Laban, Jooss attracted many strongly talented dancers (especially men, perhaps to a greater degree than any other Weimar dance personality), including Karl Bergeest (1904–1983), Jens Keith (1898–1958), Rudolf Pescht (1904–1959), Ernst Uthoff (b. 1904), Hans Zullig (b. 1914), Elsa Kahl (b. 1902), Trude Pohl (1907–1975), Lisa Czobel (b. 1906), Frida Holst, and Heinz Rosen (1908–1972). His company contained dancers from Poland, Latvia, Switzerland, France, England, Hungary, Holland, Austria, and the United States (Agnes de Mille collaborated with the Ballets Jooss in New York in 1942); no doubt his devotion to accessible theatrical narrative enhanced his appeal for young dancers wary of the great risks involved in pursuing more abstract or experimental forms of dance, with their smaller and more cultish sense of community. After World War II, when Leeder went to Chile, the doctrine of building dance out of socially coded movement spread further through the international dispersion of Jooss's disciples. But it was in Germany that his influence reached most deeply, for in postwar Germany he appeared almost alone in proposing that dance exposed contemporary social realities by being "about" the very movements that constructed social identities and relations in the world inhabited by the spectator. As he once remarked in Der Scheinwerfer (11/12, March 1928, 23): "But the dancer himself . . . experiences the highest human happiness: to rise up out of the pitiful, sorrowful realm of the small, personal quotidian life and to ascend, with body and soul, as a human of flesh and blood, into the heaven of all religions: the eternal fantasy." Thus, even the effort to produce a sober, "objective" critique of the social basis for movement and bodily expressivity carried with it a grandiose hunger for ecstasy.

Lola Rogge

The synthesis of Ausdruckstanz and theatre through dramatic narrative could take another form than that demonstrated by Jooss. Instead of building narratives out of socially coded movements, modern dance could build them out of idealized or historically coded movements that nevertheless did not derive from either ballet or "nature" as Jooss understood that term. Such a strategy defined the work of Lola Rogge (1908–1990). She was born in Altona near Hamburg and spent virtually her entire career in Hamburg. Her choreographic output was small, but she favored large-scale, ambitious projects, which she liked to revise and perfect. She first studied dance at age twelve under Gertrud Zimmermann, and in 1923 she decided to become a


dancer after performing a solo in a school dramatization of poems from Goethe's West-östlichen Divan, at which time she encountered a student familiar with Laban's new school in Hamburg. Rogge's parents opposed a career in dance for their daughter, believing that a career in hospitality services was more suitable. Her mother expressed alarm at the sight of bare-chested men in Laban's studio; however, the daughter displayed an even stronger will. She arranged for Jenny Gertz, a Laban disciple devoted to the instruction of children, to give another demonstration, which succeeded in persuading Rogge's parents to let her begin study at the Laban school in 1925. During the war, Rogge's health became delicate as a result of nutritional deficiencies, and she experienced a very sheltered life and education. Yet her dance aesthetic evolved toward a heroic-athletic image of the body, though she did not construct an especially hygienic attitude. One might even say that Rogge showed greater interest in representing a powerful will than in manifesting a healthy spirit.

At the Laban school, where she claimed she "discovered" her body, she became active in the movement choir experiments that contributed so abundantly to Laban's appeal and mystique. In these Laban treated the group as an abstract form, full of elaborate, geometric configurations detached from any conventional narrative context. What excited Rogge about movement choirs was the possibility of becoming a choir leader, who could "carry with her the group dancers, draw them into her sphere" (PS 29). But her sense of community was more cultured than cultic and did not altogether fit the aim of the movement choirs, with their constant, improvised appropriation of new spaces and their frequent indifference toward the idea of an audience. For Rogge, the group was the image of a powerful controlling will, the creation of a leader, whose desires manifested themselves in narrative movement that surpassed the strength of ballet technique or "systems" of modern dance to constrain them. But she first established her own identity as a leader by opening, at age nineteen, a school in Hamburg—the Lola Rogge Laban School, which still exists. Her first students came from elite Hamburg families, daughters of her parents' friends; she innovated by introducing courses whereby employees of major Hamburg firms, such as Shell, Reemtsma, and Deutsche Bank, could study bodily movement through corporate-sponsored cultural and development programs. She also devised schemes that permitted working-class families to take movement courses for very nominal fees, with some subsidiary support from labor unions. In 1928 she initiated regular free days for schoolchildren, who received an entire day of instruction and exercise free. She started doing morning radio broadcasts of gymnastic exercises in 1930.

In 1929, Rogge began collaborating with the Social Democratic Party and Hamburg ballet mistress Olga Brandt-Knack in coordinating lay move-


ment choir activities. This led, in 1931, to her first large-scale ensemble piece for the public, scenes from Albert Talhoff's expressionistic "vision for word, dance, and light," Totenmal, a choric memorial to soldiers killed in the Great War. Wigman had provoked much controversy the previous year at the Munich Dance Congress with her own grandiose multimedia version of Talhoff's poem; Rogge's treatment of the material was far less experimental, complex, or spectacular. She confined the action within a small proscenium stage and set the unmasked movement choir against painted expressionist backdrops, whereas Wigman had employed a huge space permitting antiphonal and contrapuntal relations between various masked speech and movement choirs, as well as highly abstract lighting effects achieved partially through a color organ. Rogge herself danced the role Wigman had assumed, the female spirit of life in dialogue with Death, but she apparently stressed the motherly dimension of the role at the expense of the erotic (PS 44–47; Peters 4). Nevertheless, the production received much acclaim; indeed, one can say that Rogge never created a work that was a failure with the public. Her next project, done in 1931 with her students, definitely thematized the identity of the leader by being a choreographed enactment, with original music by Willi Jansen, of the medieval story of the Pied Piper. The same year she married Hans Meyer, a businessman with a great affection for playing the piano. He added his wife's surname to his own and became Hans Meyer-Rogge. When he lost his job with an export firm during the economic crisis of 1930, he assumed significant managerial responsibility for the Rogge school and became a kind of shadowy collaborator with his wife on the creation of her dance works.

Thyll, with original orchestral music by Claus-Eberhard Clausius, appeared in 1933. This long dance drama in four scenes, from a scenario by Meyer-Rogge, depicted the Breughelesque adventures of the Flemish folk hero Thyll, danced by Rogge herself. The vagabond Thyll exerts a charismatic spell over the carnival-like crowd in a late-medieval Flemish town, performing a dance with two swords and other acrobatic feats. Upon learning of his father's death, he seeks his beloved, Nele, but their paths never seem to cross (Rogge constructed a curious, spatially distanced duet between them to signify their attraction to each other without their ever becoming a couple). In a dream Thyll sees the foreign oppressors of his country, then hears the voice of his conscience, which is also "the voice of the people." "Only when farmers and citizens are united, only then will Flanders be free. If Avarice, Envy, and Indifference hinder the work of unification, Thyll must die and with him freedom" (PS 56). When Thyll awakes, he gathers about him an expanding group of insurgents, who march on the town in the most spectacular scene in the drama, the "Geusenmarsch," or march of the Protestant "beggars." Thyll remains outside while the crowd pours into the


city. At a patrician ball featuring a children's gavotte and a nobles' pavanne, Thyll sees the disunity produced again by Avarice, Envy and Indifference. He therefore dies of despair—but who can bury the Flemish spirit? "You can sleep, but die?—never!"

Rogge used spoken narration to clarify some actions, such as the appearance of the disunifying vices in black, yellow, and gray. Unlike Jooss, she did not build narrative complexity through exaggeration of socially conditioned movements in daily life. Rather, narrative evolved through movements rooted in athletics, gymnastics, and military maneuvers, although these tended to signify something other than physical prowess or exertion. Rogge's movement style was far less pantomimic than Jooss's but always dramatic. She derived many of her movements from archaic or traditional dance forms, such as the gavotte, the pavanne, the Teutonic sword dance, and various German folk dances; few choreographers displayed as much imagination in making use of march rhythms. Her ensemble movements were consistently choric, faithful to the Labanian concept of the movement choir, which implied all sorts of complex geometric patterns and formal tensions between groups (in circles, countercircles, spirals, converging diagonals, colliding rows, phalanxes) but little development of individuals (or leaders) within groups and little effort to show transformations of groups into new communities. With the disbanding of the Social Democratic Party movement choirs by the Nazis and the subsequent pressure to depict groups in unison formations, Rogge enjoyed little opportunity to explore deeper dynamics or contradictory tensions defining group movement. However, the regime did not intrude much on her completely private school, never even reproaching her for excluding mandatory courses on ideology and race theory from her curriculum.

For the Hamburg State Theatre, Rogge choreographed numerous dance interludes inserted into otherwise strictly dramatic productions, and her school participated regularly in civic festivals held by the city of Hamburg. But these activities seemed incidental to her next big project, Amazonen (1935), a three-act dance adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's monumental tragic drama of female warriors, Penthesilea (1808), which already had been turned into an exciting expressionist opera in 1926 by Othmar Schoeck and a luxuriantly eccentric comedy by Ilse Langner (1932). A passionate student of ancient Greek mythology and archeology, Meyer-Rogge wrote the scenario; the music consisted of various compositions by Georg Friedrich Handel, whom Rogge regarded, curiously, as a superior composer of dance music. In the first act, set in the mysterious, cultic female state of the Temple of Diana, the High Priestess bestows the golden bow of power upon the newly elected Queen of the Amazons, danced by Rogge. In the second act the Amazons encounter intruding Greeks, led by Achilles. A great battle ensues, with the outcome decided in a duel between the Queen


and Achilles. The Queen wins, and the Greeks become prisoners of the Amazons. In the final act, the Amazons celebrate the festival of roses, the culmination of which entails the marriage of the Queen to Achilles, with whom she has fallen passionately in love. But Amazon law forbids female desire for the male, and the High Priestess demands that the Queen return the bow. When the Queen resists and declares her intention to crown Achilles king, the High Priestess stabs her, and she dies in the arms of her beloved. All the women vacate the scene, leaving "men as the future rulers of the new state."

Rogge's productions established a powerful intersection of erotic desires and aggressive drives. But in Kleist's tragedy Penthesilea mistakenly kills Achilles, then literally dies of a broken heart; in Rogge's work, threats to the authority of the female community came from women themselves (the High Priestess), not from men. The choric movement was monumentally ritualistic, making extensive use of march patterns and rhythms, saluting gestures, and tensions between sinking obedience and triumphant invocation, with mass movements occasionally interrupted by grandiose solos (bow dance) and duets (Achilles/Queen duel) (Figure 61). The dancers wore sleek, art deco versions of Hellenic costumes, with male warriors, in armor, strongly differentiated from the more lightly clad female warriors. Except for the sacred bow, Rogge declined to use any shields, spears, or swords, preferring, apparently, to suggest martial prowess entirely through bodily gesture, although she claimed to seek a "realistic" image of antiquity (PS 87).

Rogge risked a great deal of money on the production, but Amazonen proved enormously popular in the Third Reich, impressing high-level officials at the Berlin dance festival of 1935. As Meyer-Rogge remarked: "The tragedy of community differs from the tragedy of the individual in that it places the hero as the basis for action in the people, that is, it identifies the hero with a necessary moral ideal," which reinforces unity of identity rather than accommodates difference (PS 86). However, Rogge's enthusiasm for classical antiquity dated back to her school days, when she wrote papers on excavations at Pompeii, using books in her parents' library (17), and it is doubtful that she paid much attention to Nazi ideology in shaping her dance drama. After performing Amazonen in several occupied countries during the war, she was able to revive it with equal success in 1947 and again in the 1950s.

Her next major work, the four-part Mädcheninsel (1939), also featured music by Handel and explored much the same domain as Amazonen . It functioned as the second part of a trilogy that was to have concluded with a great dance drama about the Trojan War (however, the outbreak of the real European war prevented this from materializing). Meyer-Rogge's scenario depicted the evolution of Achilles into a warrior. The first scene


shows the birth of Achilles to Thetis and Peleus. The oracle prophesies that Achilles will lead a short, glorious life or a long, peaceful but unremarkable existence, and Thetis must choose his fate. When representatives of the underworld arrive with gifts of helmets, shields, and swords, Thetis determines that Achilles shall not follow the life of a warrior. So he grows up on an island of girls, wearing girl's clothes and playing girl games. (Rogge herself danced the role of Achilles.) In one game the girls blindfold him, but suddenly a group of Greek warriors appears, bearing shields with doves imprinted on them. The girls flee, leaving Achilles alone; when a soldier removes the blindfold, Achilles sees the warriors and shields, becomes aroused by their dark challenge to him, and begins to test his martial prowess in a powerful combat duet with shields between himself and another soldier. He displays superior instincts as a warrior, and the soldiers express their admiration by bestowing the famous armor on him and lifting him up onto their shields. The women then return to the scene, shifting their allegiance from Thetis to Achilles, who boards the ship for Troy and a glorious doom.

As in Amazonen, Rogge relied here on choric movement patterns to sustain dramatic interest, with groups deployed in circles, friezelike rows, squares, and phalanxes: "The choric movements occurred chiefly through striding marches or feathery, skipping runs with raised arm gestures" (110). Not surprisingly, the Nazi-controlled press bestowed lavish praise upon the work, but Rogge herself saw nothing distinctly fascist in her production, which she viewed as an account of a figure moved by an "inner necessity," destiny, rather than will (109). But this explanation was peculiarly ironic from a woman for whom group dance was, as Stöckemann repeatedly asserts, the expression of an "iron will." In any case, she had no trouble reviving the dance after the war.

The war itself no more disturbed her "will" than had the political upheavals of the previous twenty years. Following the surrender, she became prodigiously active in restoring vitality to the Hamburg cultural scene and in establishing the prominence of her school within that scene. At the same time, she raised four children. She produced two more large dance dramas, Vita Nostra (1950) and Neue Lübecker Totentanz (1956), but in these works she turned for inspiration to images from the late Middle Ages rather than from classical antiquity. In both of these productions, the medieval image of Death (a skeleton painted onto the body stocking of a male dancer) became the power driving and defining the identity of the group. In these later works it became evident that for Rogge the will, as manifested through leadership and control over groups, was synonymous with a desire to face death, a determination to test the strength of the inevitable. Dance drama was for Rogge the ideal medium for establishing the body (rather than the state) as the decisive site of conflict between the will and the inevitable. She


came from a deeply respected, almost puritanical, patrician family governed by an ambitious ideal of civic honor and dignity. This sense of honor she brought to dance in perhaps greater degree than any other dance personality of the Weimar era. Yet her art was not without ambiguities in its images of a will, of a body, of entire groups seemingly "undetermined" by the great political turbulence of the times in which they lived.


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