Mary Wigman

Impacts on Modern Dance

Karoline Sophie Marie Wiegmann (1886-1973)

Mary Wigman was born in Hanover, Germany in 1886. She was a german dancer, choreographer and pioneer of modern expressive dance. She was first introduced to dance after seeing students of Jaques Dalcrozes perform. Her triumphant career as a dancer began in 1914 (during WW1), she first studied with Rudolf Laban and had her first solo performance in 1919. By 1920 she had opened her own school in Dresden, Germany, the school was built on the use of structured improvisations. She called her own style dark and expressive. Mary died on the 18th of September 1973 in West Berlin, Germany.

Mary Wigmans performance of Hexentanz (Witch Dance)

Mary Wigman, Hexentanz

How has this performance been received by audiences

This was Wigman's most popular/major piece she had ever performed. It was reviewed very poorly but ended up winning over audiences as she stuck to her own new style of dance. This opened up many critics eyes. in 1930 she founded a dance troupe that toured in the United States. This piece was reviewed as somber and serious, with a touch of hope and love. Mary never used music as an accompaniment for her performances, but used percussion, instruments such as drums or cymbals. She put a lot of emotion and feeling into her dances, every movement had a story to tell which captivated the audiences. Mary was constantly criticised and condemned throughout her entire life.

Her impacts on the development of modern dance

Wigman influenced the German dance trend during the 20s-30s (After WW1). Modern dance as entertainment became a form of propaganda in Germany. Mary had created a new style of expressionist dance that opposed from the traditional ballet techniques that were very popular in the early 20th century. Hanya Holm (a student of Mary) progressed the heritage of Wigman's expressive style to the United States Of America. Mary wanted to share the idea of dance as a spiritual activity not just for the purposes of entertainment. She thought dance “represented the conquest by a human will of the Nature inside the human body, and the state of spiritual ecstasy resulting from that conquest”. She is seen as an individual that has had a large impact on the development of Modern dance since 1920. She rejected the stereotype that dance required music as an accompaniment. Wigman advocated the idea of dance as a spiritual activity rather than for the purpose of entertainment. By the help of Hanya Holm she had a large impact on the influence of modern dance in America. Still today Mary Wigman has had major influences on the development of dance.