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Research Guides

Chamber Dance Company Archive: Hanya Holm

A unique collection of video documenting the UW Chamber Dance Dance Company's over 25 year history of performing modern dance classics.

Hanya Holm

Hanya Holm

German choreographer, dancer, educator, stage director, and company director

You will find out that one life is not enough. You will want to have several lives in which to discover what there is to be discovered.

                                 Hanya Holm

Born Worms-am Rhein, Germany, March 3, 1893. Died New York City, November 3, 1992.

Hanya Holm was drawn to music and drama from an early age, and attended the Institution of Emile Jacques-Dalcroze throughout her childhood and young adult life. When she was 28, Holm saw a performance by Mary Wigman in Dresden in 1920 at the height of the Ausduckstanz (expressionist dance) movement. She later joined Wigman’s company and taught in her school, becoming co-director in 1929. At the invitation of theater impresario Sol Hurok, Holm came to New York in 1931 to introduce Wigman’s avant-garde methods to the U.S. During the ensuing years, Holm’s teaching methods and choreography changed as she responded to the sights and sounds of her adopted country. Anti-German sentiment caused by the activities of the Nazis also compelled Holm to craft an American identity and distance herself from Wigman and her native Germany. By 1936 Holm was forced to change the name of her school to the Hanya Holm School of Dance. Although she won numerous awards for her modern dance and Broadway musical choreography (including My Fair LadyCamelot and Kiss Me Kate), perhaps Holm’s greatest contribution was as a teacher; some of her most well-known disciples include Alwin Nikolais, Glen Tetley, Valerie Bettis and Don Redlich.

Watch Hanya Holm's Ratatat at the Media Arcade in Vol. 19 of the Chamber Dance Company Archive (DVD UWDP 001 v.19).