The German Tanztheater ("dance theatre") 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 include Rudolf Laban, Kurt Jooss, and Mary Wigman. The term reappears in critical reviews in the 1980s to identify the work of primarily German choreographers who were students of Jooss (such as Pina Bausch and Reinhild Hoffmann) and Wigman (Susanne Linke), along with the Austrian Johann Kresnik. The development of the form and its concepts was influenced by Bertolt Brecht and Max Reinhardt, and the cultural ferment of the Weimar Republic.

Tanztheater is more than a mere ‘blend’ of dance and dramatic elements. Both Birringer (1986) and Schlicher (1987) argue that the particular artistic and historical context of post-war Germany informed the genesis of Tanztheater.

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Further reading

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