bartenieff blue background "You cannot prevent dancers from dancing"
(Irmgard Bartenieff 1936)



A dancer first

In 1927 Bartenieff began teaching technique, theory, and notation and was an assistant choreographer at the Lang-Corret Laban School. It was in this period that she created the scores for four dances, one of which is the Chinesische Ballade. In 1928 she studied ballet with Michail Bartenieff, who she eventually married and with whom she founded a dance studio in Stuttgart, the Volkshochschule Stuttgart. In 1931 Irmgard and Michail formed a dance company in Berlin, the Romantisches Tanztheater Barténieff, which performed throughout Germany to good reviews. However, the political situation in Germany in 1933, and the fact that Michail Bartenieff was Jewish, caused the Bartenieffs to eventually close their company, and IB resumed her study of Dance History and Kinetography Laban (Labanotation), working with Albrecht Knust. In 1936 IB and Michail traveled to the USA to find work in dance, and in 1937 they immigrated to the USA where they performed sporadically and mixed with dance celebrities such as Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, critic John Martin, and others. When performing Bartenieff used various names: Irma Doom, Irmgard Dombois, Irmgard Berve (the surname of her first husband), Irma Prym, and Irmgard Bartenieff.

IB in saute demi attitude






These photographs are from an album of promotional photos, some of which were used on PR materials. Several demonstrate the Bartenieffs' light, comic styles and Irmgard’s knowledge of folk dance through costumes and movement. The broadside, postcard, news advert, and clipping below are for Eulenspiegelei, an evening of works produced in Leipzig in 1934.