Walter Sorell



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An indispensable addition to the history of dance, this biography of a great dancer, teacher, and choreographer is based on interviews, tapes, articles, and reviews concerned with her theories, personality, and associations. Her intellectual and artistic training in Germany, her partnership with Mary Wigman, her establishment of schools of the dance in New York and Colorado, and her choreography for opera and such musicals as My Fair Lady are set forth by a dance critic who is a contributing editor of Dance magazine. Appended are a chronology, a list of Holm’s essays, a list of her awards, and sources.”—Booklist

“[A] delicate and careful study of one of the modern-dance pioneers that very clearly sets her work and her ideas within the context of her life. You will learn a lot of the background of contemporary modern dance through this.”
—Clive Barnes, The New York Times

“It is good to have Hanya Holm rescued from the mysterious and invisible status of choreographer and brought into tangible focus both as a person and as a master and teacher of movement.” —John Martin

Known as one of the “big four” dance pioneers, Hanya Holm (born Johanna Eckert; 1893–1992) learned from, then worked with, Mary Wigman. Holm’s interest in patterns and spactial dimensions influenced future dancers including Alwin Nikolais.

Walter Sorell (1905–1997) was a prolific and respected dance writer and artist. Read his New York Times obituary.



Publication Date



Wesleyan University Press




NEH, National Endowment of the Humanities, open books, Melon Foundation, open access humanities, Dance, modernism, postmodernism, Hanya Holm, Walter Sorell, Mary Wigman, Dance writing, Johanna Eckert, Alwin Nikloais


Art Practice | Dance | Digital Humanities | Esthetics | Feminist Philosophy | Other Arts and Humanities | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Performance Studies | Theatre History


Hanya Holm, by Walter Sorell, is licensed under
a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The images on page 164, “14a. The Hanya Holm School: An Exercise in Dance Notation,” on page 132, “9.a. My Darlin’ Aida,” and on page 164, “Mother and Son, 1960’s: Hanya Holm and Claus,” have been redacted from this edition.

Publication of this title is funded by the Humanities Open Book program, a joint initiative of The National Endowment for the Humanities and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The image reproduced on page 84, “7.b. Festive Rhythm,” is reproduced with the permission of Thomas Bouchard Photography © Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Hanya Holm: The Biography of an Artist