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Blurring the Boundaries of Genre, Gender, and Geopolitics: Ruth Page and Harald Kreutzberg's Transatlantic Collaboration in the 1930s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2012


In 1933, the year Hitler was named chancellor of Germany, Ruth Page and Harald Kreutzberg launched a “new and rather surprising partnership” with a joint recital in Chicago. Page and Kreutzberg were, on the surface, unlikely artistic collaborators: she, an American ballerina and he, an exponent of the German new dance. Nevertheless, their partnership lasted four years—from 1932 through 1936—a fairly long term considering the usual obstacles to collaboration magnified by physical distance. With Chicago as the focal point they toured the Midwest and other regions of the United States, Japan, and Canada. The collaboration offered the two artists a number of advantages. Page had certain difficulties to surmount in achieving her goal of becoming a choreographic entrepreneur in the post-Diaghilev international ballet world: besides being a woman—a decided disadvantage when it came to being taken seriously as a choreographer, artistic director, and impresario in the ballet world—she lived in Chicago, outside the dance mecca of New York. She could parlay her collaboration with Kreutzberg into a cosmopolitan, modernist identity, thus preempting the threat of consignment to Midwestern obscurity. Kreutzberg, for his part, was in need of a continuous and widening stream of performance venues in which to develop his unique gifts as a solo performer; moreover, he had to contend with the rising fascism and homophobic militancy of the Third Reich as a gay man whose identity was antithetical to the nation-state of which he was ultimately to become a pawn.

Copyright © Congress on Research in Dance 2009

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