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New German Dance Studies

New German Dance Studies

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    New German Dance Studies
    Book Description:

    New German Dance Studies offers fresh histories and theoretical inquiries that resonate across fields of the humanities. Sixteen essays range from eighteenth-century theater dance to popular contemporary dances in global circulation. In an exquisite trans-Atlantic dialogue that demonstrates the complexity and multilayered history of German dance, American and European scholars and artists elaborate on definitive performers and choreography, focusing on three major thematic areas: Weimar culture and its afterlife, the German Democratic Republic, and recent conceptual trends in theater dance._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Maaike Bleeker, Franz Anton Cramer, Kate Elswit, Susanne Franco, Susan Funkenstein, Jens Richard Giersdorf, Yvonne Hardt, Sabine Huschka, Claudia Jeschke, Marion Kant, Gabriele Klein, Karen Mozingo, Tresa Randall, Gerald Siegmund, and Christina Thurner.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09386-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editors’ Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors’ Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: New Dance Studies/New German Cultural Studies
    (pp. 1-16)

    New German Dance Studiesoffers fresh histories and theoretical inquiries that will resonate not only for scholars working in the field of dance, but also for scholars working on literature, film, visual culture, theater, and performance. The volume brings together essays by scholars working inside and outside Germany, by established leaders in the field as well as new voices. Topics range from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theater dance to popular social dances in global circulation, although emphasis falls on twentieth- and twenty-first–century modern and contemporary dance. Three research clusters emerge: Weimar culture and its afterlife, a focus that is still...

  6. 1. Affect, Discourse, and Dance before 1900
    (pp. 17-30)

    “The most secret movements of the soul,” writes Friedrich Schiller in 1780, “are revealed on the exterior of the body”; each emotion has its own specific means of expression or, more precisely, “its peculiar dialect, by which one knows it.”¹ Accordingly, the “language” of the emotions is—in the opinion of Schiller and his contemporaries—a physical one. It follows that the dancer, whose means of expression is the body, has a virtually unparalleled command of this language. The philosopher Johann Georg Sulzer likewise observes in 1774 in hisAllgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste(General Theory of the Fine Arts)...

  7. 2. Lola Montez and Spanish Dance in the 19th Century
    (pp. 31-44)

    The concept of alterity has often been applied in studies on the discourse about women in nineteenth-century dance.¹ These studies focus predominantly on male fantasies of otherness, and their projection onto the female body through strategies of containment and control. Yet as the example of the self-declared Spanish dancer Lola Montez (c. 1820–1861) demonstrates, otherness can also provide particular insights into a woman’s own discourse. Apart from her specific style of dance, Montez also produced a number of successful writings, among them herMemoirs(1851),Lectures of Lola Montez, (Countess of Landsfeld) Including Her Autobiography (1858), andThe Arts...

  8. 3. Picturing Palucca at the Bauhaus
    (pp. 45-62)

    Gret Palucca quickly ascended to dance stardom in the 1920s. Born in 1902, Palucca received her dance training at Mary Wigman’s pioneering Dresden studio in the early 1920s and was among the first generation of Wigman students, including Vera Skoronel and Hanya Holm, to go on to innovate in the world of dance.¹ Prominent dance critics recognized Palucca’s talent while she was still a student, and in 1925 Palucca left Wigman and opened her own Dresden-based dance studio, rivaling her former mentor for students and fame. Known for her careerist drive, Palucca toured extensively and became one of the most...

  9. 4. Rudolf Laban’s Dance Film Projects
    (pp. 63-78)

    Rudolf Laban was one of the leaders ofAusdruckstanz, and he has been studied as a thoughtful writer and theoretician, a talented choreographer, an inspired teacher, and a tireless organizer of schools, associations, and festivals. Less known are his mostly unrealized film projects, conceptualized for different purposes on different occasions. Our only access to these today is through their scenarios, written between the 1910s and early 1930s, because it seems that no footage has survived. Analysis of this limited material, however, can reveal important aspects of Laban’s visions of a new dance and open up new perspectives in our knowledge...

  10. 5. Hanya Holm and an American Tanzgemeinschaft
    (pp. 79-98)

    Hanya Holm arrived in the United States in September 1931 to open the New York Wigman School, created under the patronage of impresario Sol Hurok. On the heels of Mary Wigman’s first, highly acclaimed U.S. tour from 1930 to 1931, interest in the Wigman method was high among American dancers, and a small staff from the Wigman Central Institute in Dresden, led by Holm, were sent to New York to capitalize on it. According to Wigman’s biographer Hedwig Müller, Wigman was invigorated by the opportunity to conquer America.¹ Hanya Holm—her loyal follower, a true believer in the Wigman cause—...

  11. 6. Lotte Goslar’s Clowns
    (pp. 99-112)

    Lotte Goslar’s autobiography,What’s So Funny? Sketches from My Life, begins with a series of self-portraits of Goslar as clown. The sketches are simply drawn, ink outlines, which mirror the spare quality of her solos. In the first, Goslar stands in a loose-fitting gown, with bulbous shoes protruding from under the hem. She holds a heart in her right hand, and another heart is safety-pinned to her left bosom. She leans backward, her left wrist flexed coquettishly. Her nose is long, reminiscent of Pinocchio, and she glances mischievously out of the corner of her eyes at the reader. Her raised...

  12. 7. Back Again? Valeska Gert’s Exiles
    (pp. 113-129)

    Valeska Gert (1892–1978) claimed she once asked Bertolt Brecht to define epic theater, to which he replied: “What you do.”¹ While this apocryphal anecdote is often taken as shorthand for Gert’s artistic oeuvre, it risks flattening the multiple kinds of otherness that delineated her career. As Svetlana Boym points out, the actual experience of exile may sometimes function not as an extension, but rather as the ultimate test, of artistic metaphors and theories of estrangement.² Through Gert’s exile and her return to a homeland that had changed in the intervening years, her performance practices, which were based in a...

  13. 8. Was bleibt? The Politics of East German Dance
    (pp. 130-146)

    Was bleibt?What remains of the culture and the arts of a country that has disappeared from the maps? I take the title of the novella by Christa Wolf, one of the most famous East German novelists, to ask this question. Written in 1979, but rewritten for publication ten years later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became a metaphor for the fate of intellectuals in East Germany and their country’s historical legacy. In the book Wolf reflected on her own life, the life of a writer, pursued by the infamous Stasi, the East German secret service. In...

  14. 9. Warfare over Realism: Tanztheater in East Germany, 1966–1989
    (pp. 147-164)

    In the first half of the 1950s, theZentralhaus für Volkskunst(Central Office for the People’s Art) in Leipzig produced a film of about ten minutes in length. TitledDer Tänzerwettstreit(The Dancers’ Contest),¹ it depicts three people in a public park cheerfully dancing to lively accordion music. An introductory voiceover clarifies the film’s context:

    The primary function of each and every true work of people’s art (Volkskunstschaffen) is to provide a reflection of current-day life. The socialist lifestyle, new moral system and relationships among the people ought to determine the content of new dance. There’s no need to attempt...

  15. 10. Moving against Disappearance: East German Bodies in Contemporary Choreography
    (pp. 165-181)

    Twenty years ago, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, many socialist countries—including East Germany—that had been prominent players on the world stage began to quickly, and in many cases, literally, vanish from the world map. In the years after the fall of the Wall, some former socialist countries such as Poland were able to recast their experience under Communist rule as part of a national narrative of ongoing resistance, while others, such as the former Yugoslavia, experienced a violent breaking apart into smaller national, ethnic, or religious units, and others, in the case of the former Soviet...

  16. 11. Pina Bausch, Mary Wigman, and the Aesthetic of “Being Moved”
    (pp. 182-199)

    Throughout the history of dance performance, the body has been seen as a site of experiences that are being transposed into movement. TheAusdruckstanzof the Weimar Republic, for example, appealed under the influence of Mary Wigman to an experiential space of physical movement and the aim of this “language of dance”¹ was to draw the audience into a communicative structure of experience. “Experience” (what Wigman termedErlebnis) became the central aesthetic concept of her dance: from a position of profound skepticism with regard to language, the intention was to show the human being in his or her truest incarnation....

  17. 12. Negotiating Choreography, Letter, and Law in William Forsythe
    (pp. 200-216)

    Strange and unusual hammering and thumping sounds fill the air as one enters the performance space. What captures our attention is not what we see, but what we hear. Clang, clang clang: these insistent noises speak of a relentless activity whose nature, however, escapes us. They beckon us to come forward where we are met by a sea of identical tables neatly aligned in three rows that extend to the very back of the hall. The tabletops are covered in white sheets of paper. There were sixty of them in Zurich, Switzerland, where the performance piece premiered in October 2005...

  18. 13. Engagements with the Past in Contemporary Dance
    (pp. 217-231)

    Dance is usually considered the most ephemeral form of art in Western society. This transitory character of dance dominates both historical and contemporary discourse. Nonetheless, historical investigations trace not only the history of dance, but also demonstrate how dance embodies historic and cultural corporealities. Only in more recent years, however, has a focus on history and memory appeared in research on contemporary European concert dance. As Aleida Assmann states, “Today it is most prominently art, which discovers the crisis of memory as its topic and finds new modes in which the dynamic process of cultural memory and forgetting configures.”¹ For...

  19. 14. Lecture Performance as Contemporary Dance
    (pp. 232-246)

    “This must be one of these projects where science meets the arts,” observes Bill Aitchison in Ivana Müller’sHow Heavy Are My Thoughts(2004).¹ This performance reports on Müller’s attempts to find an answer to the question: “If my thoughts are heavier than usual, is my head heavier than usual too?” We see Müller (on video) talking to a scientist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a philosopher, and we witness documentation of a series of specially designed experiments. Following Descartes, Müller sets out to doubt everything; yet instead of solid knowledge, her quest only brings more questions that lead to...

  20. 15. Toward a Theory of Cultural Translation in Dance
    (pp. 247-258)

    Looking at the history of dance in the modern West, and especially in Europe, where aesthetic modernism began around 1900, there are two characteristics of dance. Whether it is so-called popular dance or a more artistic form, from a sociological perspective, the history of dance is the history of globalization and transnationalism. It is also the record of how urban experiences have been expressed physically. The artistic avant-garde of the twentieth century thrived in large cities, and even folk dances rarely originated in the countryside.

    Whether tango from Buenos Aires, samba from Rio de Janiero, punk from London, techno from...

  21. Contributors
    (pp. 259-264)
  22. Index
    (pp. 265-283)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 284-284)