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Empire Of Ecstasy

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Overview

Empire of Ecstasy offers a novel interpretation of the explosion of German body culture between the two wars—nudism and nude dancing, gymnastics and dance training, dance photography and criticism, and diverse genres of performance from solo dancing to mass movement choirs. Karl Toepfer presents this dynamic subject as a vital and historically unique construction of "modern identity."

The modern body, radiating freedom and power, appeared to Weimar artists and intelligentsia to be the source of a transgressive energy, as well as the sign and manifestation of powerful, mysterious "inner" conditions. Toepfer shows how this view of the modern body sought to extend the aesthetic experience beyond the boundaries imposed by rationalized life and to transcend these limits in search of ecstasy. With the help of much unpublished or long-forgotten archival material (including many little-known photographs), he investigates the process of constructing an "empire" of appropriative impulses toward ecstasy.

Toepfer presents the work of such well-known figures as Rudolf Laban, Mary Wigman, and Oskar Schlemmer, along with less-known but equally fascinating body culture practitioners. His book is certain to become required reading for historians of dance, body culture, and modernism.

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What People Are Saying

Marcia B. Siegel
A massive achievement…. Toepfer respects the body, wants to understand movement as the primary medium of ideas, and gives women the central role they actually played in this aesthetic and intellectual discourse.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Karl Toepfer is Professor of Theater Arts at San Jose State University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Acknowledgments
Figure One 1
Early Nackttanz 22
Nacktkultur 30
Feminist Nacktkultur 39
Erotic Nacktkultur 48
Nacktballet 74
Schools of Bodily Expressivity 97
Solo Dancing 155
Pair Dancing 207
Group Dancing 234
Theatre Dancing 284
Mass Dancing 300
Music and Movement 321
Dance Criticism 334
Dance as Image 358
Ecstasy and Modernity 382
References 387
Index 411
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