Kurt Jooss
Kurt Jooss was a famous ballet dancer and choreographer mixing classical ballet
Classical ballet
Classical Ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles, it adheres to traditional ballet technique. There are variations relating to area of origin, such as Russian ballet, French ballet, British ballet and Italian ballet...

 with theatre; he is also widely regarded as the founder of dance theatre or tanztheater
The German Tanztheater grew out of German expressionist dance in Weimar Germany and 1920s Vienna. The term first appears around 1927 to identify a particular style of dance emerging from within the new forms of 'expressionist dance' developing in Central Europe since 1917. Its main exponents...

. Jooss is noted for establishing several dance companies, including most notably, the Folkwang Tanztheater, in Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...


From a young age Jooss was interested in singing, drama and visual arts, he also played the piano and was a keen photographer. He began his career in the 1920s and from 1920 to 1924 studied under and danced lead roles in the choreography of Rudolf von Laban (who was a trained visual artist and developer of dance theory). Jooss used narratives and modern theatre styles to make performable works of Dance Theatre, further developing the work of Laban. Within a year of leaving Laban, Jooss took the opportunity to establish his own dance company called, Die Neue Tanzbühne. It was here Jooss met Fritz A. Cohen, the Jewish composer who worked with Jooss on many of his famous pieces.

Jooss and Fritz (or Frederick) Cohen shared the belief that choreography and musical composition should evolve together to give expression of the dramatic idea in unified style and form. In 1925 Jooss and Sigurd Leeder joined a group of artists and opened a new dance school called "Westfälische Akademie für Bewegung, Sprache und Musik". Jooss and Leeder went to Paris in 1926 to study Classical Ballet with Russian ballerina Lubov Egorova.

In 1927 Jooss and Leeder’s work Dance of Death was criticised for being too avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

; this resulted in the theatre of Münster
Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland...

 changing personnel and programs. Because of this, many of Jooss’s colleagues left. The same year Jooss moved the "Westfälische Akademie" to Essen, and it became the Folkwang Schule.

Jooss disliked plotless dances and preferred themes that addressed moral issues. Naturalistic movement, large-scale unison and characterisation were used by Jooss to address political concerns of the time. His most important choreographic work, The Green Table
The Green Table
The Green Table is the masterpiece of German choreographer Kurt Jooss, and his most popular work, depicting the futility of peace negotiations of the 1930s...

(1932), had won first prize at an international competition for new choreography in Paris in 1932. It was a strong anti-war statement, and was made a year before Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany.

In 1933 Jooss was forced to flee Germany when the Nazis asked him to dismiss the Jews from his company and he refused. Jooss and Leeder (and doubtless Fritz Cohen and other members of his original company) took refuge in Holland before resettling in England. After touring in Europe and America, Jooss and Leeder opened a school at Dartington Hall
Dartington Hall
The Dartington Hall Trust, near Totnes, Devon, United Kingdom is a charity specialising in the arts, social justice and sustainability.The Trust currently runs 16 charitable programmes, including The Dartington International Summer School and Schumacher Environmental College...

 in Devon.

In 1934, whilst in England Jooss added new works to his repertoire, including Pandora (1944), contained disturbing images of human disaster
A disaster is a natural or man-made hazard that has come to fruition, resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment...

 and tragedy
Tragedy (event)
A tragedy is an event in which one or more losses, usually of human life, occurs that is viewed as mournful. Such an event is said to be tragic....

, which was later interpreted by some as foretelling the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan a year later.

Jooss left England in 1949 to return to Essen, Germany. Jooss continued to teach and choreograph for 19 years. One of his students from this period was the choreographer Pina Bausch
Pina Bausch
Philippina "Pina" Bausch was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director...


He retired in 1968 and died 11 years later in 1979 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Kurt Jooss works are still performed today especially The Green Table. Anna Markard, (Jooss' daughter) supervises companies that perform his works, conserving authenticity of the author of Dance Theatre.

External links

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