Ausdruckstanz (1910–1950) By Manning, Susan
The term Ausdruckstanz became common usage after World War II to designate a widespread dance practice in the early and middle decades of the 20th century that flourished in German-speaking Europe. Ausdruckstanz emerged from the life reform movement of the early 20th century that promoted diverse practices of physical culture as a way of contesting the industrialisation and urbanisation of modern life. Émile Jaques-Dalcroze’s expansion of eurhythmics at Hellerau in the few years immediately preceding World War I, and Rudolf Laban’s and Mary Wigman’s explorations of movement on Monte Verita during the years of the war, anticipated the dramatic growth of Ausdruckstanz in the 1920s and early 1930s. Students flocked to the many studios that offered amateur courses in Tanz-Gymnastik (‘dance gymnastics’) alongside professional training and certification. The most talented graduates then embarked on their own careers as educators and choreographers of solo, group, and mass dance. Leading dancers crisscrossed Central Europe on tour, and some ventured as far as the Americas and East Asia. The rise of National Socialism after 1933 decisively affected Ausdruckstanz: while many dancers remained in Germany and Austria and collaborated with the National Socialists, others went into exile due to their leftist political commitments and/or their Jewish heritage. In the Americas, in Australasia, and in Palestine, émigrés, working together with other dancers, developed and disseminated Ausdruckstanz, integrating its practices and principles with a range of other dance forms, including ballet and modern dance.