Monday, December 9, 2013

modern dance monday with gret palucca

Gret Palucca was a Dresden dancer of the early 1900s whom was recognized for airborne springs, deep lunges, and high leg extensions.  One of Mary Wigman's first students, Palucca performed in numerous group choreographies created by the modern dance pioneer in the early 1920s.  She branched out from her mentor in 1924 to found her own studio in Dresden.  The core of movements were strength and softness, pushing out and pulling in, innocence and seriousness.  Her dances tended to be based on contrasts of movement rather than psychological probings and carried such titles as "Light Beginning," "Broad Shimmering" and "Two Fragments: Quiet Song, Driving Rhythm."

The art historian Rudolf Arnheim particularly admired a 1927 solo inspired by Palucca's daily studio exercises.  Beginning with a wriggling of the toes, she would methodically set her body into motion, working gradually upward to the neck.  Onstage, she accomplished this with such an unexpected and incongruous variety of shaking, pushing and stretching movements that, for Arnheim, the result was "a merry confusion of states of mind held together only by the systematic exploration of the anatomy."
Palucca served as a model of the New Woman, the media icon of the fashionably emancipated woman, whose liberation was signified, in large part, through modern movement.  At the same time, Palucca cultivated connections with the avant-garde, especially with artists.  She offered her dancing style, popular culture fame, and art world connections to the interactions with artists at the Bauhaus,   
an innovative school for art and design in Weimar Germany.  Wassily Kandinsky, widely recognized as one of the first abstract painters, taught abstract art and theory to students and wrote theoretical treatises about abstract art during his tenure at the Bauhaus.  "Dance Curves," an essay Kandinsky published in 1926 in which the artist created four abstract drawings influenced by four photographs of Gret Palucca by Charlotte Rudolph, embodies the very issues of modernism promoted by the Bauhaus in the 1920s.  She was a lover of logic, clarity and rigor.  Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, proclaimed her "the most lucid of today's dancers," adding, "She is for us the newly found law of motion."

cited writings by Jack Anderson of the NY Times and Susan Laikin Funkerstein

Gret Palucca passed into the etherworld in 1993 at the age of 91.  She continues to inspire the bodies in our exploration of movement depth.