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Ecstasy and the Demon

The Dances of Mary Wigman

2006
Author:

Susan Manning

Ecstasy and the Demon

Winner of the de la Torre Bueno prize—with a new introduction by the author

In Ecstasy and the Demon, Susan Manning advances a sociological explanation for the collaboration between German modern dancers and National Socialism. The introduction to this second edition brings Manning's groundbreaking work to bear on dance studies today and reconsiders Mary Wigman's career from the perspective of queer theory and globalization, further illuminating the interplay of dance and politics in the twentieth century.

Manning’s arguments are fascinating. Her work may be praised for highlighting the paradoxes and complexities of an innovative performer whose works straddled the Weimar and Nazi eras.

Central European History

Mary Wigman, Germany’s premier dancer between the two world wars, envisioned the performer in the thrall of ecstatic and demonic forces. Widely hailed as an innovator of dance modernism, she never acknowledged her complex relationship with National Socialism. In Ecstasy and the Demon, Susan Manning advances a sociological explanation for the collaboration between German modern dancers and National Socialism. She models methods for dance studies that contextualize choreography in relation to changing sociopolitical conditions, bringing dance scholarship into conversation with intellectual trends across the humanities.

The introduction to this second edition brings Manning’s groundbreaking work to bear on dance studies today and reconsiders Wigman’s career from the perspective of queer theory and globalization, further illuminating the interplay of dance and politics in the twentieth century.

Ecstasy and the Demon

Susan Manning is professor of English, theater, and performance studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Modern Dance, Negro Dance: Race in Motion.

Ecstasy and the Demon

Manning’s arguments are fascinating. Her work may be praised for highlighting the paradoxes and complexities of an innovative performer whose works straddled the Weimar and Nazi eras.

Central European History

Manning’s book is a great achievement—excellently researched, elegantly reasoned, provocative, fervent.

Village Voice

Manning’s instinct for the particular issues facing gifted women in the arts is unerring. [The book] has remarkable lessons for anyone researching the history of women’s work in the arts.

Signs

This is a very important new book, a challenging, engaging, demanding, and intensely informative new perspective on Wigman’s work within a stimulating context, not only of feminism and nationalism, but also of modernism in the visual arts. Very highly recommended.

Choice

An in-depth, scholarly treatment . . . students of dance and dance historians will value Manning’s groundbreaking research and methodology.

Library Journal

After this book, the historical study of German modernism will never be the same.

Dance Research Journal

Manning’s book presents truly original arguments, is firmly grounded in research conducted with admirable academic rigor, and is written in spirited tone that makes the reading experience nowhere near as heavy going as such scholarly investigations often are.

Back Stage

Ecstasy and the Demon is a rich and wide-ranging book which is beautifully and clearly illustrated throughout. The author provides her own reconstructions of Wigman’s dances and mobilizes different readings of the same dance to produce a more complex understanding of modern dance. In her final chapter she also contributes to the historiography of modern American dance and brings to light the very different reception of Wigman in the States and in Germany. Susan Manning has written a book which is supported with scholarly reference but remains accessible for the non specialist. Readers who were not aware that dance is subject to the same political, economic, ideological, and sociological contexts as any other art form will have their eyes opened.

German History