Erika-Klütz-Schule & DOCK 11 Archive

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Kirsten Seeligmüller:

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In 2021, Dr. Fred Eckhard invited Ritu Mittal to compile material in Erika Klütz's archive for an exhibition on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Erika Klütz School. Ritu Mittal discovered pictures of Mrs. Klütz with well-known artists as well as exciting pedagogical and dance concepts and letters between Erika Klütz and Mary Wigman. There are texts by former students from 1947 with topics such as "What is dance?" and "What is space?". The materials are stored unsorted in four rooms with shelves. There is an abundance of paper, folders, photos and videos, some of the paper in a very fragile state.
It became clear that the task of sorting the material is very extensive, materials need to be carefully scanned and professionally handled and archived. A big task for more than one person. Ritu Mittal, Suse Tietjen, Maria Gibert from the Klütz School and Kirsten Seeligmüller (a student of Erika Klütz and from DOCK 11) joined forces to do this. Together they feel responsible for Mrs. Klütz's archive and have been sorting in the archive ever since. Through this task, the Erika Klütz School and DOCK 11 are growing together. All four women each received a scholarship from ADK-Berlin in 2022 to work on the archive. Ritu Mittal and Maria Gibert sort and scan. Kirsten Seeligmüller translated texts from Sütterlin and developed a card game of the five jumps from notes by Ms. Klütz, and is currently recording texts such as "What is dance?" During an appointment at the ADK Berlin, they received an introduction to archive work, which was deepened by a workshop in archiving in Hamburg. The archive is also valuable because on March 2, 1943, the Berlin dance archive was completely burned down in a British air raid, and Erika Klütz developed dance didactic concepts together with Harald Kreutzberg, Marianne Vogelsang, and others in the Meisterstätten für Tanz 1936 to 1939, which can be found in the archive.

The project
In this project "Erika-Klütz-Archiv-Online", the aim is now to professionally assess the materials of the archive, to make them digitally accessible in a clear structure, as well as to develop concepts on how the archive material can also be used in exhibitions, audio formats and, above all, in lessons at the Erika-Klütz-Schule and at DOCK 11.
For this purpose, the website was reserved, the email address was set up and the Erika-Klütz GbR was founded for this project. In the project an internet page is conceived, this is commissioned and data is entered. A mirror server is set up where the data is stored like in a shelf system and a scanner is bought for high quality scans that can also be used in books. A structure will be created to digitize VHS or digitize the tapes externally. The goal of this project is to motivate other dance scholars, educators, choreographers to use, interpret and make more known the artistic-pedagogical work of Ms. Klütz through the digitization and accessibility of the materials.
In this context, professional assessment is particularly important. Suse Tietjen is the director of the Klütz School and Kirsten Seeligmüller was still a student and assistant of Mrs. Klütz for three years and can bring the pedagogical-didactic records into a lively context. Maria Gibert is a graphic designer and can present content in book form or design exhibitions. Suse Tietjen is head of the Erika Klütz School and can assess how the materials from the archive flow into the school. Which concepts and formats lead to a networking of the Erika-Klütz-Schule and the DOCK 11 and do both schools include contents of the archive in the curriculum?

In parallel and in the future, various projects will build on each other in a modular system. For example, Ronja Kasemi's project "Map versus Copy" will, if approved, compare contents of the archive with other cross-stylistic concepts (Laban, Forsythe, and others) and bring them pedagogically into the now and the body. Ronja Kasemi has set up a research class for young people at DOCK 11.

Erika Klütz
In order to be able to estimate the value of the archive here the way of life of Mrs. Klütz. Erika Klütz started as a classically trained dancer in Schwerin and Rostock. However, she felt that "only modern dance, with its technique developed from the natural possibilities of movement," was capable of "taking up and shaping the changed feeling for life and time of the twenties." So she left her position as a solo dancer in Rostock and began studying in 1929; first at the Wigman School in Berlin and then in Dresden, where she also took her final exams. Immediately after graduation, Mary Wigman hired Erika Klütz as an assistant. She taught the beginner's class of the training and the children's classes at the Wigman School.

After an engagement with the Mary Wigman Dance Group, which toured extensively throughout Europe, Erika Klütz worked at the "Meisterstätten für Tanz" in Berlin from 1936 to 1939. During the war years from 1939 to 1945, she worked as ballet mistress and first solo dancer at the Staatstheater Schwerin and headed the dance department at the Mecklenburg Conservatory.

After the end of the war, Erika Klütz came to the Hanseatic city and became ballet master and head of the of children's and young dancers' training at the Hamburg State Opera. Here the first ballet evening after the Second World War. One of the reviews at the time read: "Here an imagination is at work which, anchored in the originally dance-like, advances to the expressive shaping of the generally human with lively inclusion of the space." After the captive ballet master Max Aust returned to Hamburg, Erika Klütz decided to open her own school for theater dance and dance pedagogy.

Based on her collaboration with Mary Wigman [addition: and later with Marianne Vogelsang and Harald Kreuzberg], Erika Klütz developed her own unique style over the course of her decades of teaching. The openness to old and new dance forms, improvising and working on her own dance creations, the connection to professional practice on the stages, the willingness to integrate interdisciplinary projects into the school's work, characterize the education offered at the Klütz School and correspond to the tradition that was started by Erika Klütz 75 years ago.

Photo: Result from the research of Ronja Kasemi, Kirsten Seeligmüller and students of the Erika-Klütz-Schule and DOCK 11: Transfer of the circle with 6 steps with and without front change into a graphic.


The digital database (synology server) Erika Klütz Archive was supported by the Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media within the framework of NEUSTART KULTUR.

The digital database (Synolgyserver) of DOCK 11 was funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media in the program NEUSTART KULTUR as well as the funding program KULTUR.GEMEINSCHAFTEN of the Kulturstiftung der Länder.
With the support of DOCKdigital.