The never-ending trembling and vomiting of the soul: Carl Sternheim's critique of the modern dance movement

Kolb, Alexandra (2008) The never-ending trembling and vomiting of the soul: Carl Sternheim's critique of the modern dance movement. Discourses in Dance, 4 (2). pp. 59-71.

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Abstract

German playwright Carl Sternheim’s comedy "The School of Uznach" (1926) is a caustic satire of the modern dance movement; particularly the claims of its central figures, notably Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman, to have achieved through their dance practice a fundamental change in social values and a new model of the human being. Set in a fictional dance academy which espouses progressive ideals of self-expression, sexual permissiveness and harmony between mental states and bodily movement, Sternheim’s play lampoons the hidden conformity, vulgarity and meaningless platitudes he sees as pervading much of his contemporary dance culture. This article considers Sternheim’s work as a literary example of the contemporary reception of the aims and methods of Ausdruckstanz; echoed for instance in the work of left-wing sociologist Siegfried Kracauer. While Laban’s and Wigman’s influences on subsequent dance developments are undeniable, Sternheim’s play sounds a cautionary note about the over-theorisation of body culture and paradoxically repressive outcomes of radical methods in (dance) pedagogy.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
ID Code:8627
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Deposited On:24 Sep 2012 13:17
Last Modified:21 Jul 2014 22:44

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