Fall Focus on the Arts and Humanities: Dancing with Jackboots: Questioning German Modern Dance under the Third Reich

Material Information

Fall Focus on the Arts and Humanities: Dancing with Jackboots: Questioning German Modern Dance under the Third Reich
Series Title:
Journal of Undergraduate Research
Palmquist, Lindsey
Frosch, Joan
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:


serial ( sobekcm )


The Third Reich dominated and manipulated almost every aspect of German life, including modern dance. After the Nazis ascended to power in 1933, the new government’s Ministry of Culture reframed modern dance as a tool for Nazi propaganda. Two prominent historical figures, Mary Wigman and Rudolf von Laban, were called upon to further Nazi ideology. Only recently has the literature of dance paid some notice to these revered choreographers’ suspect associations with the National Socialist government. To expand the story the field of dance has told about these icons of modern dance, we scrutinize the evidence of Laban and Wigman’s compliance with the Ministry of Culture. This paper focuses on how and why modern dance was used in Nazi propaganda and how the government’s protocols and regulations influenced Laban and Wigman’s work. We argue that Laban and Wigman’s compliance with the Ministry of Culture suggests their creative processes were not only fueled by personal and artistic survival, but questionable motivations.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
UF00091523_00602 ( sobekcm )


This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall 2014 1 Dancing with Jackboots: Questioning German Modern Dance under the Third Reich Lindsey Palmquist and Dr. Joan Frosch School of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts , University of Florida The Third Reich dominated and manipulated almost every aspect of German life, including modern dance. After the Nazis ascended to power in 1933, the new government’s Ministry of Culture reframed modern dance as a tool for Nazi propaganda. Two prominent historical figures , Mary Wigman and Rudolf von Laban, were called upon to further Nazi ideology. Only recently has the literature of dance paid some notice to these revered choreographers’ suspect association s with the National Socialist governme nt. To expand the story the field of dance has told about these icons of modern dance , we scrutinize the evidence of Laban and Wigman’s compliance with the Ministry of Culture. T his paper focus es on how and why modern dance was used in Nazi propaganda and how the government’s protocols and regulations influenced Laban and Wigman’s work . We argue that Laban and Wigman’s compliance with the Ministry of Culture suggest s their creative process es were not only fueled by personal and artistic survival, but questionable motivations. INTRODUCTION: DANCE IN NAZI PROPAGANDA The Holocaus t is a scar on the world’s history and the consequences of the mass genocide are imprinted on the world’s memory, especially Holocaust victims and their descendants. With this research, we aspire to bring awareness to what history should never let us forget. In 1933, Germans did not foresee the terrible crimes against humanity that would burn eternally in global memory. Rather, when the Nazis came to power promising progress and prosperity for Germany’s troubled economy and political climate, hope and new opportunity was in the airfor some. This research examines the influence of the new National Socialist government with a focus on two modern dance choreographers, who in their writings, teachings, and choreography, attempted to maintain their good standing with the Reichskulturkammer and continu e working in Germany. National Socialism came to dictate German life. National Socialism as the doctrine of the Nazi party , supported anti Semitism, state control of the economy, national expansion, and, of course, Hitler as Fhrer . The Third Reich stric tly monitored German culture through the Ministry of Culture. Minister of Culture , Dr. Joseph Goebbels, established the Reichskulturkammer (RK K) to regulate Nazi propaganda. The Ministry and its surrounding organizations banned “degenerate” modern artists and composers, especially the expressionists. Ironically, the Ministry of Culture saw potential for upholding Nazi ideals in emergent expressionistic modern dance. The expressionism inherent in early German modern dance was rooted in an emphasis on commu nicating deep emotions and had developed techniques to choreographically foster the aesthetic. National Socialism continually scrutinized all cultural expressions, including dance, even as the Nazis decided to use segments of the art form in their campaign for total control. The expulsion of Jews from all aspects of society in Nazi controlled Germany was a central protocol. By July 1933, all Jewish dancers were banned from German dance schools and companies (PrestonDunlop 173). Jewish accompanists, compos ers, artists, and other specialists in the dance and theatre realms faced expulsion as well. Some nonJewish artists, like Kurt Jooss, fled Germany rather than face consequences for keeping Jewish company members. In contrast, Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wig man, like others in Germany, complied with the anti Semitic protocol to reject Jews. Was their compliance an example of strategic “survival,” or did Laban and Wigman become artful agents in the fury of anti Semitism that seized the nation? It frightens m e to think that a humanist art form became a tool for propaganda and support of an anti humanist set of ideals. We believe dance is the sum total of the physical, emotional, and spiritual connections made between humans through viewing and participating in the beauty of movement. The Nazis’ use of modern dance has been largely ignored in dance history literature; perhaps the thought of perverting the beauty of the art to advance anti Semitic goals has equally repulsed dance historians over time, as it repul ses me today . Yet, the roles Laban and Wigman played as two historically prominent artists warrant discussion. Dualities of light and dark exist in all humans, including great historical figures.


LINDSEY PALMQUIST University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall 2014 2 METHOD OLOGY Focusing the Lens Initially, We were intrigued by the use of Laban’s movement choirs in the 1936 Olympics. The large public displays of movement were framed to display Nazi ideals to the world. The topic was first introduced to me in one of our dance history textbooks, Dance History: An Introduction (A dsheadLansdale, Layson, eds. 1994). In the chapter on “European early modern dance,” Huxley states, “During the mid 1930s, it was this type of dancing [lay movement choirs] which gained a great deal of support and funding from the new government, culminat ing in the ill fated mass choreography, Die Tarwind und die nuen Freud as part of the cultural activities for the 1936 Olympic Games” (160). Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia film, Fest der Schnheit (1938 ) , is available on YouTube. The film begins with an ode to the natural beauty of Germany and then celebrates the male Aryan body within that setting. We witnessed the ‘mass ornament’ Ramsay Burt discusses in "Totalitarianism and the Mass Ornament” (2002). The section of the film to which he refers, less than two minutes long at 32:15 – 33:33, shows individuals’ synchronized movements amidst the mass of other gymnasts performing in an expansive field (Riefenstahl 1938 ). We must admit it was not unlike the mass choreography at the opening ceremonies of today’s O lympics, or the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Choreography on such a massive scale certainly exuded power and embodied Hitler’s ideals for a perfect Aryan nation. We viewed Holocaust related documentaries to revisit the violence that occurred. Hi tler’s Children (2011) is a collection of interviews with descendants and close relatives of Hitler’s cabinet members. The Flat (2011) told the story of an Israeli man’s recently deceased Jewish grandmother who left Germany but maintained a friendship with a Nazi couple well after the war. Watching these documentaries p laced me in the realm of events that transpired during and after the Holocaust. Discussion of the Literature Valerie Preston Dunlop’s Rudolf Laban: An Extraordinary Life (1998) detailed Lab an’s work as a Third Reich governm ent employee , including his organizational efforts surrounding the 1936 Olympic ceremonies. Our deeper qu estions were illuminated by recent research such as Marion Kant and Lilian Karina’s Hitler’s Dancers (2003) . We were fascinated by Karina’s first hand account of dancing in Nazi Germany before her exile to Sweden. The book also presented strong archival material that had not been accessed since the war. Hitler’s Dancers reads in stark contrast to the more typical Laban and Wigman biographies that naively laud their work, even when discussing Holocaust events. Laban and Wigm an’s dance writings appear in Shrifttanz: A View of German Dance in the Weimar Republic (Preston Dunlop, Lahusen 1990), a sampling of original articles published in the German dance publication of the same name, started by Alfred Schlee in 1928. Wigman and Laban’s authored their articles between 1928 and 1931, and are testaments to their thinking before the Nazis took complete control . In 1931, Schrift tanz was succeeded by the more general dance journal, Der Tanz . The end of Schrifttanz marked the cultural shift towards National Socialism. In Liebe Hanya: Mary Wigman’s Letters to Hanya Holm (2003), Claudia Gitelman provides a candid account of the corre spondence between Mary Wigman and Hanya Holm . Holm was Wigman’s protg who served as director of the Mary Wigman School in New York , while Wigman continued working in Hitler’s Germany. A chapter of The Mary Wigman Book (1975) contains Wigman’s letters to her American student , Ann Port Bennet, in which Wigman discusses her busy schedule in Germany in 193536. Walter Sorell, dance historian, e ditor and translator of the volume , discusses Wigman’s reasons for staying in Germany during the war and the impressi on of Nazi sympathy that her decision gave to American audiences . Susan A. Manning’s deep analysis of Wigman’s work, Ecstasy and the Demon: Feminism and Nationalism in the Dances of Mary Wigman (1993), shows a move away from expressionism and modernity and a step towards a fascist aesthetic in Wigman’ work during the years during and leading up to the Third Reich. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (1990) by William L. Shirer, a meticulously detailed history, served as a reference for several of the authors previously mentioned; and provided a solid foundation for this research. Our reading of Mary Wigman’s letters to Hanya Holm, the writings of Laban and Wigman from Schrifttanz and The Mary Wigman Book , and Lilian Karina’s account depend s on translators’ interpretations. Since dance history has already failed in this regard, we must read very carefully. Scope of the Research While we took into account the expulsion of Jewish ballet dancers, directo rs, and choreographers, like Lilian Karina’s story, we chose not to explicitly discuss German ballet, unless it directly related to Laban’s directorship of the State Opera Ballet between 1931 and 1934. While we rely on an extensive reading of German body culture, originating in the Weimar era between 1919 and 1933, we have reference d it only to suggest why the Ministry of Propaganda may have favored modern dance. We found it difficult to remain objective abou t Laban and Wigman , who appeared to have blemished the early modern dance we learn about as student s . Recognizing the


DANCING W ITH JACKBOOTS: QUESTIONING GERMAN MODERN DANCE UNDER T HE THIRD REICH University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall 2014 3 different lights in which these artists are portrayed — depending on the source —helped me to realize that no single account or representatio n of history can ever be the complete truth. INQUIRY Why did the Ministry of Culture choose to support German modern dance in order to propagate the ideals of the Nazi Party ? We theorize that the Nazis hoped modern dance, an art form promoting unity and togetherness, would attract a disillusioned German nation suffering from economic stress. The interest in mass unification is evident in German body culture and group gymnastic practices originated in the Weimar era and were widely practiced before national unrest and the war. The Nazis’ utilization of the ‘mass ornament’ is most evident in the ceremonies and events surrounding the 1936 Olympic Games. Hitler originally scoffed at the idea of Germany hosting the Olympic Games, “calling them ‘an invention of Jews and freemasons,’ [but he] eventually saw the Olympics as a golden opportunity to promote his ideals and himself as Fhrer to an international audience” (Preston Dunlop 189). Hitler spared no ex pense building a lavish openair theatre in accompaniment to the stadium and parade grounds (Preston Dunlop 189). “While sport was the excuse, the arts were to play their part in international relations. An elaborate programme of theatre performances, art exhibitions, concerts, plays, operas and dance events was planned by the RKK, together with filming the whole Games and their preparation, plus media coverage of all events.” Laban was in charge of planning an international dance competition, a folk dance festival, and a spectacle of German dance in the open air theatre for the opening ceremony under the direction of Goebbels (PrestonDunlop 188). “The opening of the 1936 Olympics included a mass dance performance ‘Olympische Jugend’ (‘Olympic Youth’) in w hich many German dancers led by Mary Wigman performed Laban had also produced for the opening of the games a largescale bewegungschre (movement choir) piece ‘Vom Tarwind und der neuen Freude’ (‘The Warm Wind and the New Joy’)” (Burt 107). Goebbels withdrew support for Laban’s movement choric work at the dress rehearsal for the ceremony “because the work was not in line with party thinking” (Huxley 160). “What is significant about [the Nazis’] use of [mass ceremonial and ritual performances] is the fact that they found them difficult to control and ineffective” (Burt 107). In addition to these dance events, Leni Riefenstahl made a series of two films called Olympia in conjunction with the Berlin Games. Riefenstahl is responsible for Triumph of the Will, one of the most extraordinary examples of propaganda films in history. One of the Olympia films, Fest der Schnheit , consists of an individual, smiling Aryan woman performing gymnastics routines in the midst of many other women like her. “Riefenstahl’s fil m aimed to demonstrate the existence of a mythical, organic community and to show what National Socialism had done for Germany” (Burt 113). “Whereas modernism in various forms was publicly supported in many ways under Weimar, the National Socialists were strongly opposed to modernism in the arts. Early modern dance had its origins in modernism: while the National Socialist regime initially supported modern dance, it undoubtedly became increasingly antagonistic towards it after 1936” (Burt 111). Due to the obvious ill fit of an expressionistic and modern art form propagating an ideology that eschews expressionism and modernism, German modern dance did not uphold the ideals of National Socialists as expected and consequently fell out of favor. How did the new National Socialist government impact dance practitioners in Germany, especially Laban and Wigman? In the years leading up to the rise of the Third Reich in 1933, the careers of Laban and Wigman were successful in Germany and internationally. As Berlin Sta te Opera Ballet director, “Laban continued to write, to teach and to examine in his schools, to lecture and to champion both amateur and literate dance” (Preston Dunlop 165). “A Movement Choir Festival in Hamburg during the summer [of 1931] was a further e xample of Labanite activity” (Preston Dunlop 166). However, Laban’s successful movement choirs required the delegating jobs to his disciples, such as developing notations, and “was indicative of how endeavors that he had started were becoming less and less under his own control” (PrestonDunlop 166). In the same season, “the Dresdenbased Wigman School celebrated its tenth anniversary, and the dance magazines, both national and international, noted it with issues and articles devoted to her work” (Preston D unlop 166). Wigman toured North America three times between November 1930 and March 1933. She made quite an impression on the American dance scene, as noted by John Martin in The New York Times (Sorell 132). Due to the decline in German economy and “international difficulties” in the fall of 1931, German art schools began to close and dance departments also suffered major budget cuts (Preston Dunlop 166 67). At the same time, Nazi terror became more commonplace; “anything modern was a target, anything forei gn, anything Jewish” (PrestonDunlop 169). Plays and books were censored, modern sections of art museums were closed, and museum directors were fired. Manning holds that Wigman’s dances went from aesthetic representations of modernity to fascism in the lat e twenties and early thirties and “when the National Socialists came to power not only Wigman but also


LINDSEY PALMQUIST University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall 2014 4 many other modern dancers struck up an accommodation with the new regime” (131 32). However, “W hen Wigman returned from her third U.S. tour, Hitler was Chancellor of Germany. She was anxiously aware of the drastic political change [In April 1933] her school was searched and she was interrogated by the government Non Aryan artists, musicians, and writers were being denied employment or were forced to res ign their positions [and] many artists emigrated” (Gitelman 36). But not Wigman. Kurt Jooss was a student of Laban, the director of the Folkwang School’s dance department and the choreographer of The Green Table , the winner of the 1932 International Chore ographic Competition in Paris (PrestonDunlop 170). Jooss was aligned with leftist ideologies after the premier of his ballet The Green Table and after the subsequent Nazi rise to power, “they harassed the choreographer.” Jooss and most of his company escaped just in time. The municipal government of Essen dismissed [the company’s composer,] Fritz Cohen, and several other Jewish members of the company Jooss took the hint and, along with most members of his company, slipped acr oss the border to Holland. The next day the local Gestapo arrived at his house with an arrest warrant. The company took up exile in England, and the choreographer did not return to Germany until 1949. – Manning (165) Lilian Karina refers to recorded conversations held in Stockholm between Kurt Jooss and Professor Bengt Hger; they discuss Jooss’s 1933 exodus. The decision to leave was sparked by the request to have the name of Fritz Cohen “stricken from the program” to which Jooss would not comply (Karina 46). Jooss recollected: A few of my trusted associates and I packed the tour bus, which we left ready to depart at any moment. After the rehearsal ended, I told them that on that very night we were going on tour. The dancers should go home and pack their things I explained to them that this tour meant leaving Germany for good. A few went to get their wives, a few decided not to go with us. When I was asked what security for the future we had, I replied, “Friends in Holland will put us up” and “we have to get out of here.” – Kurt Jooss ( Hitler’s Dancers 46) Every dance practitioner in Germany submitted to the Third Reich’s regulations, including affiliating themselves and their schools with Nazi organizations. Examples included The National Socialist Teach ers Organization, the Group for German Culture, and Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy); the Fine Arts Chamber of the RKK membership was required to work in the dance field (Preston Dunlop 17778). Wigman described her school in Dresden after Hitler became chancellor in a letter to Hanya Holm : “all the organizational things that came about through the changes in the law and the intervention of the professional organizations, has eaten us all up!” (Wigman 3839) . Kraft Durch Freude jurisdiction shifted the roles of males to females in Laban’s movement choirs. Nazis claimed that folk dancing suited male dancers while the y considered the bewegungschre a “healthy activity for young women” (PrestonDunlop 184). In 1934, Laban’s tenure at the Berlin State Opera came to a close. He was celebrated by a farewell matinee, which Goebbels attended (PrestonDunlop 181). Afterwards, Laban taught summertime choric dance courses in Essen, Germany, where his usual spiritual themes of “tolerance, communion, and collaboration” were question ed (PrestonDunlop 185). The Essen school curriculum was not bothered, however “provided no student was Jewish and that no teacher was communist or offered ‘degenerate’ art Everyone was expected on all occasions to give t he Nazi salute and greet each other with ‘Heil Hitler’” (Preston Dunlop 185). Goebbel s offered Laban the Deutsche Tanzbhne directorship , the team overseeing plans for the 1936 Olympic opening ceremonies (PrestonDunlop 186). A party member was assigned t o the team to certify that the members used the Nazi salute and said nothing against the party (Preston Dunlop 190). In 1935, the Tanzbhne team hired more teachers and moved to new facilities, operating as a “House for Dance.” By this time, Laban no longe r created within his former i dioms; rather, he “follow[ed] an extremely vague outline from the Ministry” (Preston Dunlop 188). Mary Wigman was offered the Folkwang School directorship in 1934, but she stated in a letter to Holm that she declined so she co uld dedicate herself to the Dresden Wigman School. In the same letter, Wigman denotes the topics of her school’s written examinations: ) Describe German dance as a building block for a new national, racial culture” (Wigman 46). The translator’s notes say “Wigman used the word vlkisch , a term in use from the fifteenth century that means “concerning the people.” Nazi rhetoric appropriated it around 1920 to mean racially pure, Aryan, and not Jewish” (Gitelman, Forster 48). In a letter written to Holm in 1938, Wigman laments, “No possibility for me to come over this winter! Sometimes I’m awfully sorry about it, but from here I can do little or nothing” (72). Wigman was not allowed to perform abroad (Gitelman 73). After the Berlin Olympics, members of the Tan zbhne team were forced from their positions, and Laban left Ber lin to recover from exhaustion (Preston Dunlop 197198) . The government forced Laban to resign from his position on the grounds that he was a freemason and refused to join the Nazi party ; the Nazis were merely looking for an excuse to get rid of Laban (Preston Dunlop 199200). From this we conclude that Laban’s choreographic failure, Vom Tauwind und der Neuen Freud, was the real reason behind his “resignation.” In August 1937, he managed to escape to Paris with an invitation to speak at the Science of the Arts Conference ; later he settled


DANCING W ITH JACKBOOTS: QUESTIONING GERMAN MODERN DANCE UNDER T HE THIRD REICH University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall 2014 5 at Dartington Hall in England with Kurt Jooss (Preston Dunlop 201204). Wigman gave her last solo performances in 1942, when Nazis banned he r from performing in Germany; t he Nazis called her an “unfit teacher for German youth” and two Party members took over her school in Dresden (Gitelman 64). However, Wigman went to Leipzig where she taught at the Academy for the Performing Arts (Gitelman 64 ). The Leipzig academy was bombed, but Wigman found alternate spaces to work, including her own apartment (Gitelman 76). In 1943 she staged Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and choreographed Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice in 1947 (Gitelman 76). Did Laban and Wigm an comply with the Ministry of Culture’s protocols and regulations solely to survive in Germany, or did they seek to express their own feelings of anti Semitism, or to further their careers and visions for dance? In the preface of Hitler’s Dancers, Karina reminds us that not only did an entire national government deny the Holocaust but that the nation’s citizens and professionals were expected to deny it as well. She says, “What makes dance history so unusual was the extent to which the Labans, Wigmans and lesser figures of the German dance world succeeded. Where angry young Germans exposed the crimes and collaborations of their predecessors in other fields, the former Nazis in the dance world simply floated above the fray, practicing art for art’s sake. Wh ile the evidence has always been there, nobody wanted to look” ( x ). Many German dancers stayed in Germany when the Nazis came to power, in contrast to the visual artists, musicians, composers, and writers who left. Valerie Preston Dunlop places these danc ers into two categories: “those who embraced the political regime, and those who simply wanted to survive” (187). PrestonDunlop calls Wigman a survivor (187). Purportedly, Wigman was jealous of Laban’s position with Deutsche Tanzbhne and indignant over her need for his support (188). According to Preston Dunlop, Laban accepted the job to seize “the opportunity he needed to pursue his mission for dance from a sponsored position” (186). Seemingly, he did not care that the sponsorship came from the Nazi regi me since every dance practitioner in Germany was subject to governmental organizations like the RKK (Preston Dunlop 183). No one made work outside the watchful eye of the Ministry of Culture. On a more positive note, Preston Dunlop surmises that Laban coul d have become a Nazi party member but that doing so would have gone against “all his principles of individual freedom of expression, which he never did” (PrestonDunlop 184). Unlike many of his colleagues, Laban did not leave Germany when the Nazis took co ntrol. He wanted to see his vision for dance come to fruition; he fought for so much of his life against personal illness, derision from his family, and doctrines with which he did not agree that he was not going to give up the fight under the threat of the new government (Preston Dunlop 183). According to Sorell, Mary Wigman did not emigrate because Germany was her native home and she did not want to leave her country in a time of strife. Further, Germany was where she founded her work. Alternatively, America ns saw Wigman’s decision to continue in Germany as having given into Nazism. Sorell states that the Nazis declared Wigman “a leftist and Jew lover” (162). Based on other evidence, however , we would not call Wigman a “Jew lover.” S ome of her statemen ts in letters to Hanya Holm could be viewed as anti Semitic. For example, she discusses the examination result s of her students, including the work ethic of a Jewish pupil in a letter from 1934: Florence Gordon – you probably remember her – passed the ex am, too. Gifted in her own way, she can create, compose, perform, etc. Unfortunately, there is a certain streak of inertia typical of her Southern – Semitic – background. If she is constantly pushed it is okay. But if left to work on her own, she tends to take it easy and is overly self indulgent. (49) In the same letter, Wigman mentions another Jewish student seeking to attend the Wigman School in Dresden: Pola Nierenstein wants to come too. At the Vienna dance congress Pola received first prize for dir ecting (group work) and the second prize for solo dance. And one of Pola’s students received the first prize for solo dance. Nice, isn’t it? (49) In Wigman’s direct communication with Pola Nierenstein, now Nirenska to hide her Jewish identity, Wigman “rem ind[s] her correspondent that all artists joined [the National Socialist Teachers Organization and the Group for German Culture], that they had to do so to survive” (Gitelman 36). In this letter from 1951, Wigman ’s tone appears defensive . CONCLUSION: QUESTIONING BEGETS CONSCIOUSNESS Concerning the Nazis’ faith in the provision of German modern dance to uphold their doctrines culturally, the art form ultimately failed. In light of the humanistic and expressionistic spirit in which modern dance was conce ived , it fell out of favor with the Nazis after the 1936 Olympics ; as did the figures that led the movement. The Third Reich banned Wigman from performing and teaching in 1942 and forced Laban out of Germany in 1937. The art form of film more successfully propagated Nazi ideology. For example, Leni Riefenstahl’s films, including Triumph of the Will (1935), and her Olympia series, Fest


LINDSEY PALMQUIST University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall 2014 6 der Schnheit (1936) and Fest der Vlker in (1938), continued to demonstrate Nazi prowess. Our research suggests that Laban and Wigman’s compliance with the Ministry of Culture was evidence of a creative process of personal and artistic survival. They maintained their careers under the Third Reich because they believed dance was important to keep alive in Germany. They appeare d determined to further their careers despite the terror their government inflicted. Though dance was used as a pawn in spreading Nazism, Laban and Wigman held fast to their visions for dance and, as Sorell reflects, Wigman, and surely Laban, “woke up too late to the demonic and tragic furor of Nazism” (163). The two figures’ direct attitudes toward Jews are harder to pinpoint. According to our readings, they complied with orders to send away Jewish students, did not protest when their Jewish accompanists, composers, and colleagues were shunned , and stayed to work in Germany while their contemporaries emigrated in fear and protest. While the intense circumstances in which Laban and Wigman made their decisions cannot be recreated today, it is worthwhile to question what their motivations may have been. We have no definitive answer to t he question at hand. However, the control that Laban and Wigman had over their fates in their respective si tuations is up to speculation. The resources remain open to interpretation. We hope that this research sparks thought and further interrogation into this era of the lives and creativity of Rudolf von Laban and Mary Wigman and artists like them . Questioning is the greatest tool we possess to prevent history from repeating itself in a vicious and terrible cycle. REFERENCES Burt, Ramsay. "Totalitarianism and the Mass Ornament." Alien Bodies: Representations of Modernity, 'Race' and Nation in Early Modern Danc e . London: Routledge, 1998. 101 20. Print. Fest der Schnheit. Dir. Leni Riefenstahl. Perf. Sheigo Arai, Jack Beresford, Ralf Berzsenyi. Olympia Film GmbH, Excelsior Pictures Corp, 1938. YouTube. < > The Flat. Dir. Arnon Goldfinger. Perf. Arnon Goldfinger, Gertrude Kino, Leopold von Mildenstein. IFC Films, Ruth Diskin Films, 2011. Netflix. Gitelman, Claudia, ed. Liebe Hanya: Mary Wigman's Letters to Hanya Holm . Trans. Marianne Forster and Catherine T. Klingler. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 2003. Print. The Green Table. Choreographer Kurt Jooss. Restaged by Anna Markard. Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, 2013. YouTube. < > Hitler’s Children. Dir. Chanoch Ze’evi. Perf. Betti na Goering, Katrin Himmler, Monika Goeth. Film Movement, 2011. Netflix. Huxley, Michael. "European early modern dance." Dance History: An Introduction . Ed. Janet Adshead Lansdale and June Layson. Second ed. L ondon, New York: Routledge, 1994 151 68. Print. Karina, Lilian, and Marion Kant. Hitler 's Dancers: German Modern Dance and the Third Reich . Trans. Jonathan Steinberg. N ew York: Berghahn, 2003. Print. Manning, Susan A. Ecstasy and the Demon: Feminism and Nationalism in the Dances of Mary Wigman . Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California, 1993. Print. Preston Dunlop, Valerie. Rudolf Laban: An Extraordinary Life . London: Dance, 1998. Print. Sorell, Walter, ed. and trans. The Mary Wigman Book: Her Writings . Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1975. Triumph of the Will. Dir. Leni Riefenstahl. By Leni Riefenstahl, Walter Ruttman, and Eberhard Taubert. Perf. Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Max Amann. Leni Riefenstahl Produktion, Connossieur Video, 1935. Y ouTube. < > Wigman, Mary. "The Years of the Swastika." Ed. Walter Sorell. The Mary Wigman Book: Her Writings . Middletown, CT: We sleyan UP, 1975. 157 63. Print .