Re-reading Mary Wigman’s Hexentanz II (1926): The influence of the non-Western 'Other' on movement practice in early modern 'German' dance

Lucy Weir, Lito Tsitsou

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Abstract / Description of output

This paper provides a re-reading of Mary Wigman’s Hexentanz II (Witch Dance, 1926), emphasising the social and aesthetic conditions in which she created dance works. A renewed interest in the idea of a return to nature characterised the artistic mood of this period, and scholars conceive of this return as an antidote to the capitalist modernisation of Germany and the effects of the First World War. This paper views Wigman’s work as a prominent example of the reversion to ‘primitive’ forms as a means of devising a new, avant-garde creative practice. The witch’s dance indicates a return to ‘primitive ritualism’, which is linked to the construction of the non-Western ‘Other’ as authentic and pure. Hexentanz II drew on various non- Western cultural elements, which became crystallised into a new technique and style of movement. However, as Edward Said (1978) would argue, such cultural elements are utilised for the benefit of the West and the construction of a modern dance more widely, a fraction of which would be gradually fabricated as ‘German’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-74
JournalScottish Journal of Performance
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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