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Gertrud Bodenwieser rediscovered in Europe

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Published on Feb 24, 2013

The Jewish Expressionist dancer, Viennese-born Gertrud Bodenwieser, fled the Nazi regime for the safe haven of Australia in 1939.

So it's seems an unlikely twist of fate that 74 years later her choreographies would be reintroduced to Europe by the grandson of a Nazi SS Officer.

Berlin-based choreographer and contemporary dancer Jochen Roller says Germany is still recovering from losing its avant-garde performers, who were at the forefront of their art during the early 20th Century.

The 42-year-old Mr Roller won a grant from the German government's Federal Cultural Foundation to rediscover what Europe had lost but what had instead continued to develop in Australia.

With the help of Bodenwieser specialists in Australia, he is researching and recreating aspects of Bodenwieser's choreographies, which will be included in an interactive website dedicated to her memory.

"What she brought (to Australia) was a different aesthetic... and of course this caused controversy amongst the dance community and teachers", explains Curator of Dance at the National Library of Australia, Lee Christofis.

Mr Christofis says Bodenwieser's dancers could liberate the body in ways that classical ballet could not and there is now a resurgence of interest in that technique around the world.

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