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The Language of Dance
Mary Wigman

Available only as an ebook.

Wesleyan Open Books

1966 • 118 pp. 72 illus. 10 x 8"

$0.00 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7799-3

Open access - no commercial use
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This fascinating document is the autobiography of a creative imagination rather than an individual. In dealing with her past, Wigman has chosen to eschew all... [continued in Reviews below]”—Joan Cass, Boston Herald

Mary Wigman is one of the most celebrated dancers of the modern era, and this book shows her passion for the art. Nearing the ninth decade of her life, the great German dancer and choreographer looks back over her fifty-year career in the dance not to detail the circumstances of her living and working, but to consider the art of the dance itself, its aesthetics, its nature as expression and as interpretation, its relation to the aspirations and the spiritual needs of man. Along the way, she pauses to consider some of her own more notable creations—Totenmal, Farewell and Thanksgiving, Witch Dance, and others: the circumstances that led to their composition, their roots in her own thought and experience, the strange and subtle ways in which an idea or a sensory impression grew and changed as it was translated into the language of dance. It is a book demanding close thought, for it puts into words a series of concepts whose natural mode of expression is not in words; but for the insight it gives into the creative mind at work, especially in the field of the dance, it is of permanent importance.

Reviews / Endorsements

“This fascinating document is the autobiography of a creative imagination rather than an individual. In dealing with her past, Wigman has chosen to eschew all dates, names, and places, and instead of personal anecdotes she describes the state of mind that accompanied the birth of certain specific dances…Those who have seen Wigman dance will find reminders of her performances in the lovely photographic illustrations. All who read the book will find in it some rare revelations of the artistic process.” Joan Cass, Boston Herald

“It is a book to be warmly recommended to anyone interested in dance; a book that demands comparison with Doris Humphrey’s magnificent Art of Making Dances, as a personal document concerned with the raw material of dance.” Clive Barnes, The New York Times

“Miss Wigman writes with a passion and a richness of imagery which Walter Sorell’s translation captures very well…The book is of the utmost importance to anyone concerned with dance history, and it also affords extraordinary insight into the operations of a remarkable creative mind.” Jack Anderson, Dance Magazine

WALTER SORELL (1906-1997) was the New York dance critic for The Providence Journal from 1950 to 1966 and a contributor to publications like Dance News, Dance Magazine, Dance Observer and Ballet Today. The author of more than 25 books in English and German, he sought to unite the arts in a cultural synthesis. He also translated several important novels from the German, including Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf and Erich Maria Remarque's Arch of Triumph. His interest in modern-dance history led him to translate The Mary Wigman Book and to write the biography of Hanya Holm.

An NEH / Mellon Humanities Open Book Grant Recipient


Sun, 17 Dec 2017 14:56:27 -0500