Hanya Holm


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(née Johanna Eckert; b Worms, 3 Mar. 1893; d New York, 3 Nov. 1992)

German-US dancer, teacher, choreographer, and one of the formative influences of American modern dance. She studied at the Dalcroze School in Hellerau and joined Wigman in 1921 both as company dancer and as teacher in Wigman's school. She performed in the premieres of Wigman's Feier (1928) and Totenmal (1930) and in 1931 went to New York to open an American branch of the Wigman school. This evolved into her own Hanya Holm Studio which was one of the city's most important dance schools between 1936 and its closure in 1967, with Tetley and Nikolais among its pupils. In 1936 she also formed her own group with which she choreographed her epic work of social criticism, Trend (mus. Varèse, 1937), also Metropolitan Day (mus. G. Tucker, 1938) and Tragic Exodus (mus V. Fine, 1939). In 1941 she established her Center of the Dance in Colorado Springs at which she taught annual summer courses and further developed her method of teaching by creative exploration rather than set technique. Despite the strong political bias of her work she was both humorist and populist, and created award-winning choreography for the hit musicals Kiss Me, Kate (1948), My Fair Lady (1956), and Camelot (1960). In 1961 she was appointed head of the dance department of New York Musical Theater Academy. She continued teaching at various schools until 1985 and in the same year premiered a new work, Capers, for the Don Redlich Dance Company, which performs much of her work.

Subjects: Dance.

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