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Bodmer, Sylvia (1902-1989), dancer; choreographer; dance teacher

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Surname: Bodmer
Forenames: Sylvia
Gender: Female
Date: 1902-1989
History: Sylvia Bodmer was born in Duisberg, Germany in 1902. During her 50-year career, she gained a reputation as one of the foremost proponents of the inclusive and free-interpretive dance style of Rudolf Laban. Her father, a British national, died shortly after she was born and her mother moved her to Switzerland. Bodmer showed an aptitude for mathematics as a child, but her gender proved an obstacle to employment in that field, despite a good qualification. She gravitated toward dance, and came to know about Rudolf Laban's work through Suzanne Perrottet, one of his earliest followers. After 18 months with Perrottet, she went to study with Laban's school in Stuttgart. Laban, impressed with her dancing, asked her to join his performing dance group at Gleschendorf, with whom she spent two years. In 1924 Bodmer joined with Lotte Mueller in Frankfurt to form a school based on Laban's ideas, and then joined with Edgar Frank in 1927 to form a chamber dance group. Laban's popularity ensured that her solo venture was successful; her school provided choreography for the Frankfurt Opera House. That same year she married Ernest Billigheimer, a Jewish doctor who assumed the name Bodmer in 1947. In 1938, she persuaded her husband to visit her cousin in England. A day later the Nazis arrived with a warrant for his arrest. She followed him to Manchester in 1939. In 1942, she began teaching dance, and founded the Young Dancers' Group after learning that Laban had a following in Britain. Laban was now in England with his associate Lisa Ullmann. Bodmer and Ullmann founded the Manchester Dance Circle in 1943. Bodmer taught at the Art of Movement Studio. She died in 1989.
  • Germany
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/P233932
  Description Held by Reference Further information
c1920-1989: notebooks containing drawings, notes, correspondence, photographs, dance theatre programmes and news sheets
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance: Laban Archive

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