Wigman, Mary 1886-1973

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WIGMAN, Mary 1886-1973

PERSONAL: Born Marie Wiegmann (some sources cite surname of Wigmann), November 13, 1886, in Hanover, Germany; died September 19, 1973; daughter of a manufacturer. Education: Attended schools in England, Switzerland, and the Netherlands; attended Dalcroze School, Hellerau, Germany, c. 1911; also studied with Rudolf Laban, 1913-20.

CAREER: Choreographer, beginning 1914; Mary Wigman Central Institute (school of modern of "expressionist" dance and dance troupe), Dresden, Germany, founder, administrator, choreographer, teacher, and dancer, c. 1919-42; dance teacher, choreographer, and soloist in Leipzig, Germany, 1942-49; operator of a school of modern dance in West Berlin (now Berlin), Germany, beginning 1949. Solo dancer on tours in the United States, 1930-33.

AWARDS, HONORS: Art Prize of Berlin, 1952; Schiller Prize of Mannheim, 1954; Great Cross, Order of Merit, German Federal Republic, 1957; Dance Prize, Association of German Critics, 1961; honored by government of West Berlin, 1966.


Deutsche Tanzkunst, C. Reissner (Dresden, Germany), 1935.

Die Sprache des Tanzes, E. Battenberg (Stuttgart, Germany), 1963.

The Language of Dance, translated by Walter Sorrel, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1966.

The Mary Wigman Book: Her Writings, edited and translated by Walter Sorrel, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1975.

Mary Wigmans choreographisches Skizzenbuch, 1930-1961, Hentrich (Berlin, Germany), 1987.

Contributor to books, including The Modern Dance, edited by Virginia Stewart, E. Weyhe (New York, NY), 1935, reprinted with new foreword by John Martin, Dance Horizons (New York, NY), 1970; and Dance as a Theatre Art, edited by Selma Jeanne Cohen, 1974. Contributor to periodicals, including Modern Dance.



Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

International Dictionary of Modern Dance, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Manning, Susan Allene, Ecstasy and the Demon: Feminism and Nationalism in the Dances of Mary Wigman, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.

Overby, Lynnette Y., and James H. Humphrey, editors, Dance: Current Selected Research, Volume 1, [New York, NY], 1989.

Selnick, Laurence, editor, Gender in Performance: The Presentation of Difference in the Performing Arts, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1992.


Ballet Review, winter, 1987, Susan Allene Manning, "From Modernism to Fascism: The Evolution of Wigman's Choreography;" spring, 1987, Hedwig Muller, "Wigman and National Socialism."

Christian Science Monitor, May 12, 1964, p. 4.

Dance, November, 1966, p. 40.

Dance Research Journal, summer, 1987, Dianne Sheldon Howe, "The Notion of Mysticism in the Philosophy and Choreography of Mary Wigman 1914-1931."

Drama Review, December, 1980, Maggie Odom, "Mary Wigman: The Early Years, 1913-1925," pp. 81-92.

New York Herald Tribune, November 11, 1956, p. 5.

New York Times, November 13, 1966, "Wigman at 80: Still an Influence," p. 28.



Dance, November, 1973, obituary by M. B. Siegal, pp. 80-81.

Time, October, 1973, p. 79.*