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Dance and Politics

Edited By Alexandra Kolb

This is the first anthology to explore the fertile intersection of dance and political studies. It offers new perspectives on the connections of dance to governmental, state and party politics, war, nationalism, activism, terrorism, human rights, political ideologies and cultural policy. This cutting-edge book features previously unpublished work by leading scholars of dance, theatre, politics, and management, alongside renowned contemporary choreographers, who propose innovative ways of looking at twentieth- and twenty-first-century dance.
Topics covered range across the political spectrum: from dance tendencies under fascism to the use of choreography for revolutionary socialist ends; from the capacity of dance to reflect the modern market economy to its function in campaigns for peace and justice. The book also contains a comprehensive introduction to the relations between dance and politics.
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5 Death and the Maiden: Mary Wigman in the Weimar Republic

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← 120 | 121 → MARION KANT

5 Death and the Maiden : Mary Wigman in the Weimar Republic

Introduction

Mary Wigman (Hanover 1886 – 1973 Berlin), one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, set an agenda in modern dance – performance, choreography as well as education. ‘What is dance?’ asked Wigman in 1921 and answered: ‘Space, symbol; the finite with the eternal, formed, penetrated, built’ (Wigman 1921). Her dance, which ‘realised the human body as tension in space’, was ‘absolute’ (Wigman 1921, Michel 1924), ‘pure’ and ‘essence in space’ and therefore removed from any exterior influence; it was ‘Selbstzweck’ – an end in itself (Wigman 1925:19);1 it was beyond reality and politics. The dancer had to serve the movement idea and had to reject exterior milieu and former histories, such as ballet and its technique, as outdated. So she insisted from her first days in Germany in the early 1920s.

Her dance was ‘a living language that was spoken by and announced the human being – an artistic message that lifts itself to the skies, above base reality in order to speak in images and metaphors of that which moves man in his innermost being […]’ (Wigman 1963/1986: 10).2 Not concrete reality, which would have been constricting, but liberating imagination inspired dance and choreography (Wigman 1925: 12). Contemporariness revolved around the laws and forces of eternity. To dance meant to be called, to witness, to be asked by some higher authorities and to...

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