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Like a Moth to the Flame: Modernity and Mary Wigman 1886-1973


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10894

Like a Moth to the Flame: Modernity and Mary Wigman 1886-1973

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Title: Like a Moth to the Flame: Modernity and Mary Wigman 1886-1973
Author: Newhall, Mary Anne Santos
Advisor(s): Slaughter, Jane
Committee Member(s): Bokovoy, Melissa
Ferguson, Eliza
Bennahum, Judith
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of History
Subject: Mary Wigman
Modern dance
Third Reich
Weimar Republic
Hanya Holm
Entartete Kunst
Martha Graham
Women's History
Kurt Schwaen
Monte Verita
Emile Nolde
Theatre History
Dance Pedagogy
Modern European History
U.S. Dance History
Divided Germany
LC Subject(s): Wigman, Mary, 1886-1973
Women dancers--Germany--Biography
Women choreographers--Germany--Biography
Modern dance--Social aspects--Germany--History
Modern dance--Political aspects--Germany--History
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: From her birth in 1886 to her death in 1973, the life of German dancer Mary Wigman spanned the Wilhelmine Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and the post-war years. She stands as a seminal figure in what has come to be known as the modern dance. Her Ausdruckstanz or dance of expression was fundamental to the development of dance and theater in Germany and beyond. Her aesthetic ideas were disseminated across the European continent and traveled to the United States through her own touring from 1929-1932 and continued after the establishment of the Mary Wigman School in New York City in 1931. Her former pupil, Hanya Holm, brought Wigman‘s technique west and translated and adapted Wigman‘s ideas to the North American temperament. Wigman‘s work also can be viewed as an assimilation of many of the major artistic innovations of her time, Romantic Symbolism, Primitivism, Expressionism and Dada art, all gathered under the banner of Modernism. As an example of the New Woman of the Twentieth Century, she embraced her own version of modernity, one made complex by the political, economic and social upheavals of her time. Wigman carries many roles in the world of dance and theater. She stands as a trailblazer, a pedagogue and theoretician, an inspiration for many artists who followed, a conflicted figure caught in the political drama of her time, an intellectual, a mystic and the most pragmatic of arts administrators. The complexity of Wigman‘s persona cannot be overstated. Fundamentally, though, Wigman was an artist, the consummate soloist for whom performance was the moment of transcendence. This dissertation provides the key facts about Wigman‘s life including new information about her relationship with the Third Reich and her life following World War II. It also contains a detailed discussion of her philosophy and dance aesthetics with a focus on her major works.
Graduation Date: May 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10894

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