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 " this Norma Desmond?"  Looks like her, yeah?

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 drives that point a bit by failing to make any 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 during Nazi occupation, you aren't scared -  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

FABULOUS FOOTNOTE:  A woman simply id'd as Sarah, Stockholm gave me some needed 

To my knowledge, she didn't perform the "Witch dance" in front of Hitler. He would have hated that kind of dance, it was too arty for him. He wanted dance to be about to show the female body in a unphilosophical pretty dance. Her dance developed during the years, and her last solo that she danced herself in 1942, lacks the artistic ambition of "Witch dance", it's just a melancholic, pretty, harmless solo with soft female gestures in a long, flattering dress to beautiful classical, melodic music. Totally harmless. In Lilian Karina and Marion Kants "Hitlers dancers" you can read her correspondance to leading nazis. It's not pleasant. She did all she could to please the nazis, all to get the power of the german dance world. She had a choice. The borders were open until 1938, she could have left anytime with her dance company like Kurt Joos did. When he heard that he had to get rid of his jewish dancers he simply told them to go on tour with him and they never went back. He rescued them all and he refused to come back for the Dance olympics in 1936. Wigman stayed in Germany through out the war. She could have done the right thing. I don't belive she was a true nazi, but I think she did all to get power. But she was a difficult artist and in the end the nazis grew tired of her and she lost her influence in their regime. Sarah, Stockholm