Leeder, Sigurd (1902–1981) By Lidbury, Clare
In a career that spanned over sixty years, Sigurd Leeder made important contributions to the dance worlds in Germany, Great Britain, Chile, and Switzerland. His early association with Kurt Jooss was of great importance to them both, with Leeder working not only as a dancer in the Ballets Jooss, but also as a ballet master and teacher at the various schools associated with the company. In 1924 he joined Jooss at the Municipal Theatre Münster as a soloist and as a teacher at the new Westphalian Schule für Musik, Sprache und Bewegung (School for Music, Voice, and Movement), then in 1927 he moved with Jooss to Essen. There he became head of the dance department at the Folkwangschule für Musik, Tanz und Sprechen (Folkwang School for Music, Dance, and Voice) and danced with the municipal dance ensemble that later evolved into the Ballets Jooss. In 1934 Leeder moved to Dartington Hall in Great Britain, along with Jooss, other members of the company, and several students from the school in Essen. When the Ballets Jooss folded in 1947, Leeder established the Sigurd Leeder School of Dance in London. He moved to Chile to become director of the dance department at the University of Santiago in 1959, and then to Switzerland in 1964 to again open his own school. The dance language developed by Leeder and Jooss was a synthesis of ballet and Laban’s theories filtered through their varied dance and theater experiences and distilled in Leeder’s inspirational teaching. He was renowned not only for these teaching skills but also for his exploration, development, and refinement of Kinetographie-Laban (Labanotation).