Monday, October 31, 2016

Mary Wigman Pioneer, Nazi, Nobody (originally posted 2010)





Here is Mary Wigman a pioneer in expressionist dancing performing her "Witch Dance" which she debuted in Berlin in 1914. She was very influential in "creepy movement in film", as the narrator explains. This is all very "silent-movie creature-of-the-night" type of stuff that she is doing, isn't it? Yet at the same time, when I first saw it, I thought "wait.....is this Norma Desmond?"
Looks like her, right?
You see, I never heard of Mary Wigman. Have you? I'll tell you why you haven't:
As "ahead of her time" as this "artist " may have been, when Hitler took control of Germany, this free thinking, Wiemar-era visionary handed all of her Jewish dancers/employees and friends right over to the Nazis. In slow, dramatic, creepy motions, I'm sure.
This horror may explain why today was the first time I ever heard of this "visionary". An act of cowardice like that sort of negates all that progressiveness. All that boldness. And what's left is a dancing Nazi who is given no credit for her contribution. Here ballet's icon Dame Margot Fonteyne makes that point by making no mention whatsoever of Wigman - who is obviously in advance of her time with that witch dance (1914) and should be mentioned somewhere between Nijinksky (1913) and Kurt Jooss' "Green Table" (1932). Check it out:




A friend of mine said "she probably didn't know what was being done to the Jews or maybe she was scared" to which I replied "If you can get up on stage and do that fucking witch dance in front of Hitler, you aren't scared of him, that's for sure. You're indifferent."
And her indifference snuffed out what should have been her legend.
Wigman died in 1973 at the age of 86. Just enough years to watch her name become synonymous with....nothing. Sieg Heil, Mary. - Fatova Mingus.