Gertrud Bodenwieser

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Gertrud Bodenwieser
Franz Löwy - Gertrud Bodenwieser, 1921.jpg
Gertrud Bondi

(1890-02-03)3 February 1890
Vienna, Austria–Hungary
Died10 November 1959(1959-11-10) (aged 69)
NationalityAustralian, Austrian
Known forDance, choreography and teaching
MovementExpressionism, modern dance, classical ballet
Spouse(s)Friedrich Rosenthal

Gertrud Bodenwieser (3 February 1890 – 10 November 1959), also known as "Gertrude", was a dancer, choreographer, dance teacher and pioneer of expressive dance.


Emmy Towsey (Taussig) and Evelyn Ippen, Bodenwieser Ballet in Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia c. 1939.[1]
Bodenwieser's pupils' waltz, 1953

The daughter of Theodore and Maria Bondi, a wealthy Jewish couple, she turned to dance under the pseudonym Gertrud Bodenwieser of which she was celebrated in Vienna as a sensation. Bodenwieser's style was based on classical ballet of which she was originally taught by Carl Godlewski from 1905 to 1910; she had a new style of dance that was welcomed by the audience, critics and young students with much enthusiasm. She was inspired by the works of Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis. One of her greatest successes was "Demon Machine", a dance performance, in which a group of dancers turned into machines.[2]

Gertrud Bodenwieser was appointed professor of dance at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. In the concert hall's basement she ran her own dance studio. Her pupils went out on tours throughout Europe as the "Bodenwieser dance group". Among some of her students who went on to pursue their own careers were names such as Vilma Degischer, Trudl Dubsky, Shona Dunlop MacTavish, Gisa Geert, Grete Gross, Erika Hanka, Hilde Holger, Evelyn Ippen, Susi Jeans, Eileen Kramer, Gertrud Kraus, Ena Noël, Maria Palmer, Lisl Rinaldini, Emmy Towsey, Bettina Vernon and Cilli Wang.[3]

Her dance "The Masks of Lucifer" showed intrigue, terror and hatred as personifications of political totalitarianism and became famous as the embodiment during an ominous time.

In the build-up to World War Two, Gertrud Bodenwieser fled with a handful of students to Colombia in 1938, where she gave a guest performance as part of the four hundred year celebration of Bogotá. She was even able to fill a bullfight arena with enthusiastic spectators. Emigration led Bodenwieser to Australia. In Sydney, she taught dance and founded the Bodenwieser Ballet. Her teaching has produced some of the most important choreographers and dancers of Australia, including Anita Ardell, Keith Bain and Margaret Chapple.

Bodenwieser was married in 1920 to the Viennese director and playwright Friedrich Rosenthal, who was murdered in 1942 in Auschwitz concentration camp by the Nazi regime.


  • Cuckson, Marie: Gertrud Bodenwieser. Her Contribution to the Art of the Dance. Vaucluse, NSW 1960.
  • Dunlop MacTavish, Shona: An Ecstasy of Purpose. The Life and Art of Gertrud Bodenwieser. Dunedin, N.Z. 1987.
  • Grayburn, Patricia (ed.): Gertrud Bodenwieser, 1890–1959. A celebratory monograph on the 100th anniversary of her birth, with a catalogue of the exhibition shown at the University of Surrey (...) and the Royal Festival Hall (...). Surrey 1990.
  • Dunlop MacTavish, Shona: Gertrud Bodenwieser. Tänzerin, Choreographin, Pädagogin. Wien – Sydney. (Gekürzte Ausgabe, aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Gabriele Haefs, hrsg.v. Denny Hirschbach). Zeichen und Spuren, Bremen 1992. ISBN 3-924588-21-X.
  • Vernon-Warren, Bettina and Charles Warren (ed.): Gertrud Bodenwieser and Vienna's Contribution to Ausdruckstanz. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam u.a. 1999. ISBN 90-5755-035-0.
  • Amort, Andrea: Free Dance in Interwar Vienna. In: Interwar Vienna. Culture between Tradition and Modernity. Eds. Deborah Holmes and Lisa Silverman. New York, Camden House, 2009, p. 117–142. ISBN 978-1-57113-420-2


  1. ^ Bodenwieser Ballet
  2. ^ "Dance in Exile: Central European Expressionist Dance". 2000. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  3. ^ Vernon-Warren, B. and Warren, C. (Eds) (1999) Gertrud Bodenwieser and Vienna's Contribution to Ausdruckstanz. Routledge. ISBN 90-5755-035-0, pg. 22