Burrowes, Leslie (1908–1985) By Nicholas, Larraine
Dancer, choreographer, and teacher Leslie Burrowes was the first British recipient of the full certification of Mary Wigman’s Dresden School, which licenced her to teach Wigman’s modern dance technique to amateurs and professionals. Before beginning her training with Wigman in 1930, Burrowes had studied and performed with Margaret Morris, whose “free dance” method belonged to the Hellenic and Duncanesque nonballetic dance techniques of early twentieth-century Britain. Burrowes rejected her original dance training in favor of Wigman’s expressionism, returning to London in 1931 to proselytize on its behalf and to serve as Wigman’s official British representative. Burrowes’ attempts to establish Wigman’s dance in Britain were largely unsuccessful, caught in the squeeze between the better-established ballet and Hellenic dance. However, she is an important figure in the development of modern dance in Britain, providing a thorough aesthetic education to some of the teachers and lecturers who, from the 1940s, were instrumental in establishing Laban-based modern dance in British teacher training colleges and schools.