ROOTS

Historical and Aesthetic Roots

 

RTDG traces its technical foundation lineage directly from the European modern dance pioneer Mary Wigman. Mary's colleague Margret Dietz brought the work to the United States. Then, David Harrington and Judith Catterall, founders of Oregon Dance Consort, passed the heritage on to Ray. Ray in turn, strives to pass it on to his students and company members.

 

Mary Wigman said, Art is communication spoken by man for humanity in a language raised above the everyday happening. An artist by definition has a message that needs to be communicated. Dance is one language for an artist to choose. Dance is considered by many historians to be the mother of the arts; and because dance is no mere translation of life, but needs the breath of living bodies to fulfill itself as a language, it is the most universally accessible of the arts.

 

The ballet, with its rigid codified vocabulary and aristocratic roots, has spoken for centuries to society's need for fantasy and for awe-inspiring, unattainable perfection. In contrast, modern dance, bursting on the scene during a time of cataclysmic upheaval on a worldwide scale, sought to develop a language that would speak to and for the present-time realities of humanity. It is not surprising that the pioneers of this language sprang up simultaneously in the United States and Germany. Both were centers for the great events of their day and the powers that would force a new world-order.

 

Colleagues of Wigman such as Margret Dietz and Hanya Holm transplanted Mary's theories of movement and artistic philosophies to the United States, shaping them to the dynamic of a mobile and ethnically diverse nation. During the 60s and 70s her ideas found popular voice in the visions and expression of American artists Alwin Nicolais and Murray Louis. To use the language of modern dance with integrity, it merits respecting the historical roots of that language. Margret Dietz survived the firebombing of Dresden and fought in the underground. She left Germany upon an agreement with other Germen artists to go forth in the world and use their art as voice for peace and worldwide community. The effort is still thrives to carry forward that goal. Modern dance at its best and purest is the language of a culture and reflection of its own time. In the words of Mary Wigman, "What are we looking for? To attune our innermost feelings to the mood of our time."

 

Photos:

 

Top - Mary Wigman

Second - Margret Dietz

Third - Judith Catterall of Oregon Dance Consort in "Seasons"

Bottom - David Harrington of Oregon Dance Consort in "Ancient Voices of Children"

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