From Political Revolutionaries to Cultural Missionaries: Dance and Dancers in Modern Germany, A Lecture by Jacalyn Carley

Heimbold Visual Arts Center Donnelley Film Theatre

Open to the public

/ Tuesday


Isadora Duncan, one of many utopia-seekers in the early 1900s in Germany, was popular the same time as grass root dancers with strong political messages-all generating new aesthetics and mixing politics. Dada and Bauhaus dancers reacted, they sought to remove personality and promote the absurd, establishing Performance Art that we know today. Hitler embraced the Expressionist dancers and their raw emotions, promoting Nazism with massive modern dance events.

With many styles and extreme personalities, dance in Germany has always been essential. It has never shied away from the political.

After WWII, boundary-crossing TanzTheater questioned painful recent history and allowed humor. It opened our hearts. At the same time, East German choreographers exercised clichés in Social Realism ballets, generating large audiences for politically motivated art.

By the mid-1970s, West Germany was "invaded" by American dancers who imported Post Modern, Contact Improv and Body Mind-Centering with continued, resounding impact on contemporary choreographers to this day. Sasha Waltz & Friends-a 20-member company with a blend of expressionism, post-modernism, TanzTheater, and the Absurd-tours the world as a Cultural Ambassador for Germany. 

Now Community Dance, a million Euro project in Berlin, brings us full circle. Utopian by nature, its mission is to foster a healthy and balanced society through the experience, the beauty, and disciplined practice of dance.

Jacalyn looks forward to talking about the personalities and their works, their impact on history, and the forward thinking approach to dance in Germany today.

Jacalyn Carley, on-site director of Sarah Lawrence's Summer Arts in Berlin program, graduated from George Washington University where she studied with Maida Withers. In Philadelphia, she worked with Brigitta Hermann as a dancer for Group Motion and moved to Berlin in the mid-1970s. A founding member of tanzfabrik Berlin, her choreographies helped define the tanzfabrik and the re-emerging dance scene in West Berlin. Her works toured extensively, including representing the city of Berlin in cultural exchanges. She has since written several books, including co-authoring Dance for Your Life, the bestselling autobiography of Community Dance pioneer Royston Maldoom, along with a methods book for Community Dance.