Mary Wigman and Ausdruckstanz

ernst_ludwig_kirchner_-_die_tanzende_mary_wigman_-_1933

Early in Mary Wigman’s career, her performance works could have been classified as either dance or Expressionist theater. By positioning herself as a dance artist she was able to consolidate power over her creative output in ways that would not have been possible in a less feminized art form.

Wigman’s choices regarding all aspects of her career and creative output were predicated on the practicalities of realizing her primary concern: maintaining creative and financial independence as a female artist. These practical considerations included style, genre, and her relationships to bourgeois culture, the physical culture movement, and the image of the Neue Frau. Her navigation of circumstance in the Weimar era enabled her to successfully negotiate the available opportunities, and therefore to become enshrined as the primary progenitor of Ausdruckstanz.

This according to “Mary Wigman: Expressionist, feminist, theatre artist” by Janet Werther (Studies in musical theatre VIII/3 [2014] pp. 261–70). This issue of Studies in musical theatre, along with many others, is covered in our new RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text collection.

Today is Wigman’s 130th birthday! Above, a 1933 portrait by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner; below, excerpts from her iconic Hexentanz.

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