Dancing the soma-ecstatic: Feldenkrais and the modernist body

Kampe, T (2021) 'Dancing the soma-ecstatic: Feldenkrais and the modernist body.' In: Scholl, R, ed. The Feldenkrais Method in creative practice: dance, music, theatre. Methuen, London, pp. 17-37. ISBN 9781350158382

Official URL: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-feldenkrais-meth...


This chapter retraces body-codes and creative emancipatory ethics found in the work of Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) to the beginnings of early-Modernist European Dance and Body Cultures as exemplified by the work of Rudolf Laban, Mary Wigman, Hanya Holm or Gertrud Bodenwieser. The author suggests that Feldenkrais’s emphasis on a fostering of the mature adult as a curious, creative and emancipated individual emerged from the early modernist ‘Körperkultur’ (body culture) and dance beginnings that formed important part of the cultural milieu in 1920’s Palestine which Feldenkrais encountered before he left for Paris. Feldenkrais experienced holistic dance/gymnastic studies with Israeli expressive modern dance pioneer Margalit Ornstein (Vienna 1888 – Tel Aviv 1973) before moving to Paris. Ornstein was influenced by the work of Viennese Choreographer Gertrud Bodenwieser (1890 - 1959) and European body-culture pioneer Bess Mensendieck (1864–1957), both visionary emancipatory proto-somatic pioneers. While revealing similarities between Mensendieck’s, Bodenwieser’s and Feldenkrais’ ethos and practices, the chapter also places Feldenkrais into the context of post 1940’s Israeli body-culture education which drew on European exile Modern Dance and holistic Reform-Gymnastic practices including the work of Elsa Gindler (1885-1961). By offering an alternative and feminist history, the chapter re-views the beginnings of Feldenkrais’s work not as the work of a monolithic genius but as situated within an interdisciplinary milieu that emerged from utopian and diasporic Modernist artistic and educational endeavours.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Keywords: Feldenkrais Method, somatic practices, diaspora modern dance, European body cultures, feminist body cultures
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LA History of education
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Research Centres and Groups: Creative Corporealities Research Group
Date Deposited: 07 May 2020 18:09
Last Modified: 17 May 2022 15:32
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/13209
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