Watching Weimar Dance

Elswit, Kate (2014) Watching Weimar Dance. Oxford Studies in Dance Theory . Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780199844838


Watching Weimar Dance asks what audiences saw in the peculiarly turbulent and febrile moment of the Weimar Republic. It closely analyses the reception of various performances, from cabaret to concert dance and experimental theatre, in their own time and place - at home in interwar Germany, on tour, and later returning from exile after World War II. Spectator reports that performers died or became half-machine archived not only the physicality of past performance, but also the ways audiences used the temporary world of the stage to negotiate pressing social issues, from female visibility within commodity culture to the functioning of human-machine hybrids in an era of increasing technologization. These accounts offer offer limit cases for the body on stage and, in so doing, speak to the preoccupations of the day. Approaching a range of performance artists, including Oskar Schlemmer, Valeska Gert, Kurt Jooss, Mary Wigman, Bertolt Brecht, Anita Berber, and the Tiller Girl troupes, through archives of watching, the reception of these performances also revises and complicates understandings of Ausdruckstanz as the representative dance of this moment in Germany. They further reveal how such practices came to be reconfigured and imbued with new significance in the post-war era. By bringing insights from theatre, dance, and performance studies to German cultural studies, and vice versa, Watching Weimar Dance develops a culturally-situated model of watching that not only offers a revisionist narrative, but also demonstrates new methods for dance scholarship to shape cultural history.

* Brings insights from Dance, Theatre, and Performance Studies to Weimar Studies and vice versa to develop a culturally-situated model of watching
* Considers the transnational connections and afterlives of Weimar-era dance, including historicizing the post-World War II usage of Ausdruckstanz
* Offers new methods for dance scholarship to shape cultural history through, rather than despite, the instabilities of performance
* Based on a collection of rare archival materials, from published cartoons and annotated 1920s scrapbooks to legal case files from a copyright suit


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