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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the literature on modern dance in Germany under National Socialism (1933–1945). In the current consensus, three interrelated explanations are advanced for why so many modern dancers collaborated with the National Socialists: shared roots in the life reform and physical culture movement at the turn of the twentieth century; crises during the Weimar Republic that culminated in the Great Depression; and the changing cultural policy of Goebbels’s Cultural Ministry. This chapter probes varied interpretations of how and why Mary Wigman, Rudolf Laban, and other modern dancers adapted their mode of Ausdruckstanz as Deutscher Tanz (“German dance”) and poses new research questions. The complex question of modern dance in the Third Reich is viewed in relation to changing historiographic models for understanding Germany between the two world wars.

Keywords: Ausdruckstanz, modern dance, National Socialism, Mary Wigman, Rudolf Laban

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