Mary Wigman, German Expressionism & Modern Dance….
From a choreographic and aesthetical production perspective, Mary Wigman (1886 – 1973 Germany) is, after Laban, the first relevant, European, modern dance figure reported by modern dance history.
As much as Laban, Dalcroze and Delsarte (who are of an extreme importance mainly because of their ideological contributions), Wigman develops her own understanding of dance and introduces it in a significant amount of choreographic pieces.
She opposes radically to classical dance values and methods, in a search for a dance that would accomplish an expressive function of the dancer’s soul.
Concerned about a close relationship between spirituality and movement, she defends the idea of invisible forces that would give life to dance. From this point of view, she somehow recreates the cathartic function attributed to dance in ancient societies.
Her choreographic work and thought are considered as part of the artistic trend called German expressionism. Her practice itself receives the name of dance of expression or “Ausdrückstanz” (in German).
Wigman’s dance pieces are remembered for their tragic, dark character and are described as introspective dances that reveal vibrant, vital, excited and passionate inner states of being.
She engages herself into the social and educational mission of the choreographer, by creating several schools and transmitting her artistic legacy. Among her renowned students are Hanya Holm, Harald Kreutzberg, Gret Paluca and Kurt Joos.
According to modern dance history, she influences the whole German dance trend during the 1920s and 1930s and what follows after the war.
Her ideas are brought to the United States of America by Hanya Holm, who passes the heritage to figures like Alwin Nikolaïs.
Still, in other countries like France, for example, Wigman heirs are responsible for the respective modern dance trends at the time.
Her most famous piece is called “Hexentanz” (The Witch).