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Watch Dance Meet Geometry in This 1920s German Ballet

Ballerinas go Bauhaus.

Two figures meet each other face to face. The sharp edges of their geometric bodies are perfect for their precise movements and the lined universe that surrounds them. The entire scene is so perfectly mathematical, it may take you a couple of seconds to realize these are human dancers and not archaic animations.

One of the most celebrated yet surprisingly obscure works associated with the Bauhaus School in Germany, The Triadic Ballet is an avant-garde exploration of space, dance, and the human body. It came from the brilliant mind of Oskar Schlemmer, a painter, sculptor, dancer, and designer, amongst many other things. Obsessed with the idea of freeing art from its restrictions, he used choreographed geography to push the boundaries of the way we use our body. His strange, captivating, and somewhat eerie ballet was performed from 1922 to 1929, when it fell victim to the stock market crash that brought the western world to its knees.

The ballet has been reproduced several times. This particular video is from a 1970s reproduction, which sought to be as faithful to Schlemmer’s idea as possible. Sadly, much of what we see are assumptions taken from notes and pictures. Since his work was declared part of the “Degenerate Art” by the Nazis, much of it was lost.

If three-and-a-half minutes of being under the spell of The Triadic Ballet are not enough, you can enjoy the full version of the performance: 

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.