A pioneer of the modern expressive dance
Mary Wigman, original name Marie Wiegmann, (born November 13, 1886, Hanover, Germany—died September 18, 1973, West Berlin), German dancer, a pioneer of the modern expressive dance as developed in central Europe.
A pupil of Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and Rudolf Laban, she subsequently formulated her own theories of movement, often dancing without music or to percussion only. Although she made her debut as a dancer in 1914, her triumphant career as dancer-innovator-choreographer began after World War I. Her impact on dance throughout central Europe changed the course of dance history. Her pupils, numbering thousands, included Harald Kreutzberg, Yvonne Georgi, Margarethe Wallmann, and Hanya Holm, the latter two exerting major influences on the development of American modern dance. She and her company toured the United States in 1930, and in 1931 a Wigman School was established in New York City under the direction of Holm, which, in 1936, became the Hanya Holm School. Wigman’s works include The Seven Dances of Life (1918), Totenmal (1930), the entire opera Orpheus and Eurydice (1947) of Christoph Gluck, other operas, group works, and solos.