Rudolf Laban’s provocative, experimental, explosive dance theatre works have lain hidden since the Third Reich deliberately annihilated his name. This book exposes Laban’s audacity and his significance for dance theatre today, giving access to his creative practices as he provided dance audiences with shock, amusement, awe, curiosity, beauty and meaning. Dr Valerie Preston-Dunlop, with collaborating artists and dancers, has researched and recreated for today’s audiences four groundbreaking works: The visionary Swinging Temple of 1922, his diverse Suite of 1924, his critique of Weimar Republic’s decadence Nacht 1927, and his tragic-comic satire Green Clowns. The book follows the making of these works starting with his dynamic revitalisation of dance, freeing dance from music and from ballet, introducing improvisation to find movements never danced before. His struggles in Paris, Munich, Zurich, Hamburg and Berlin, cities vibrant with political controversy and dramatic cultural change, are presented as central to the content and rehearsal methods of his dance theatre works.
The re-creations discussed are no resuscitation of dead dances but the result of a radical new look at how to engage today with dances made in the 1920s. Preston-Dunlop, her collaborators rehearsal directors Alison Curtis-Jones and Melanie Clarke, and composers Oli Newman and Robert Coleridge, write with a frank freshness of what actually goes on in the re-making of an expressionist work where dancers may speak, shout, gasp, spit as well as dance in unfamiliar and demanding ways. The impact of these works on the collaborating dancers, in 1920 and today, was profound.
This book provides essential historical data on Rudolf Laban’s theatre works whose performances can be viewed on the DVDs made of Swinging Temple, Solos and Duos, Nacht and Green Clowns. (These will be available separately: they are not included with the book.)