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Holm, Hanya (1893–1992) By Randall, Tresa

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1920-1
Published: 15/10/2018
Retrieved: 16 June 2024, from


Hanya Holm, dancer, choreographer, and teacher, is widely considered one of the pioneers of American modern dance, and was one of the most influential figures to transfer German dance philosophies and practices across the Atlantic. In an international career that spanned eight decades, she established herself as an award-winning choreographer of diverse genres, a master teacher, and a tireless advocate for dance. Her approach to kinetic abstraction and the lived experience of movement was foundational to modern dance practice and theory. In particular, she developed elaborate theories of the dancer’s relationship to space. Unlike some of her colleagues, Holm did not develop a codified technique, but instead taught through improvisational exploration of a comprehensive movement syllabus based on natural forces such as gravity and momentum. She insisted that each dance composition have its own form and its own vocabulary—an imperative passed down to her from her mentor Mary Wigman—and Holm, in turn, encouraged her students to develop their own aesthetic. Protégés including Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Nancy Hauser, Valerie Bettis, Eve Gentry, Don Redlich, and Glen Tetley made distinctive contributions to modern dance in the latter half of the twentieth century.

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Randall, Tresa. Holm, Hanya (1893–1992). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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