These vividly written letters document the lives of two remarkable women artists who were at the center of twentieth-century dance modernism. Mary Wigman's groundbreaking choreography and inspired performing in Germany during the 1910s and 1920s brought the emerging art of modern dance into dialogue with modern painting, theater, and film. Her disciple Hanya Holm took Wigman's aesthetic philosophy to the United States in 1931, effectively adapting it to the American temperament, and ultimately became a celebrated choreographer of Broadway musicals such as ""Kiss Me, Kate"" and ""My Fair Lady"". Written between 1920 and 1971, Wigman's letters are a treasury of fascinating detail about artistry, friendships of women, and the stamina of two artists who refused to capitulate to personal, political, and cultural forces that confronted them. They inject immediacy into discussions of Wigman's work within the Third Reich and cast light on Holm's construction of an American identity. With her extensive annotation Gitelman contributes context to the domestic and social spheres within which the women worked on two continents. Never before published in any language, these letters are untapped resources for historians of twentieth-century culture, German-American relations, as well as dance.
Claudia Gitelman is professor emerita of dance in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. A dancer trained in the Wigman/Holm tradition, she taught with the Nikolais/Louis Dance Theatre Lab and is the author of Dancing with Principle: Hanya Holm in Colorado, 1941-1983.