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Kurt Jooss was an important German modern dancer and choreographer. He began his career in the 1920s, dancing lead roles in the choreography of Rudolf von Laban. Jooss is noted for establishing several dance companies, including, most notably, the Folkwang Tanztheater in Essen.
In 1933, the Nazis ordered Jooss to dismiss all the Jewish people associated with his company. He refused. As a result, he and many of his dancers had to flee Germany. They found refuge in Holland before resettling in England, where Jooss opened a school with the dancer Sigurd Leeder. After the end of World War II, Jooss returned to Essen where he remained until he retired in 1968. One of his students from this period was the choreographer Pina Bausch.
Jooss disliked plot-less dances and preferred themes that addressed moral issues. His most important choreographic work, The Green Table (1932), won first prize at an international competition for new choreography in Paris in 1932. It was a powerful anti-war statement, made just a year before Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. It is still performed by dance companies around the world. Another work, Pandora (1944), contained disturbing images of human disaster and tragedy, and was later interpreted as foretelling the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan a year later.
Adamson, Andy and Clare Lidbury, eds. Kurt Jooss. Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 1994.
Lidbury, Clare, ed. Kurt Jooss: Big City. London: Dance Books, 2000.