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My Visiting Researcher Report, UL’s Centre for Irish-German Studies

To sum up my residency at UL’s Centre for Irish-German Studies as Visiting Researcher this term, I contributed the following report to the Centre’s May 2018 newsletter, thanks to all who made this possible, especially to UL’s Dr. Gisela Holfter:



Dr Deirdre Mulrooney – first Visiting Research Fellow of the Centre reports …

I was delighted of the opportunity to share my ongoing research with students of German, of Dance, and colleagues from the German Department as well as UL’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, among others, on Thursday April 19th.  My time as Visiting Researcher at the Centre for Irish-German Studies allowed me to follow up on my extensive research so far unearthing Irish-German Modern Dance pioneer Erina Brady’s impressive activities spreading Mary Wigman’s holistic theories in Emergency Dublin, including whatever traces that may have virtuously trickled through unknown to Irish society today, via her former students who are now in their mid to late 70s.  After being in touch via email with Garnet Schuldt Hidderman and her colleagues at Deutsches Tanzarchiv Koeln, about the Wigman Family Archive; and others at Berlin’s Akademie der Kunst, which holds the Wigman Artistic Archive, I visited the Cologne Archive in person on the week of March 19th.  Despite the fact that the search for references to Erina Brady by name alas didn’t yield any results, being there, I was able to read around the topic of Mary Wigman, Rudolf Von Laban, Jacques Dalcroze, and, most intriguingly the activities at Monte Verita where, while World War One was raging elsewhere in Europe, Wigman first decided to consecrate her life to dance, created her watershed choreography Hexentanz, and invented the genre of “Ausdruckstanz”.  This helped me to put Erina Brady’s training in a wider context, which helped me to shine light on her mission in Ireland, and give clues as to her little-known pre-Dublin existence and training.  The Cologne research trip also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my PhD supervisor, Dr. Hedwig Mueller at Schloss Wahn Theaterwissenschaftlichesammlung der Uni Koeln, where she is director, as well as being world expert on Mary Wigman and founder of the Mary Wigman Foundation.  At my request, Dr. Mueller kindly searched her own extensive reservoir of Mary Wigman material for a reference to Erina Brady, and interestingly came up with a highly significant reference to “Erin O’Brady” in Wigman’s personal handwritten August 1954 diary which ties in, and validates other correspondence already in my own collection from Mary Wigman to Erina Brady’s most successful pupil, Jacqueline Robinson, who was in the middle of founding her own “l’Atelier de la Danse” at the time in Paris.  Mueller was happy to verify and endorse the likelihood that Erina Brady was indeed a bona fide disciple of Mary Wigman, despite lack of lists of pupils at Wigmans’s Dresden Schol (1920 – 1942).  It also made me think of Erina Brady’s 1946 choreography “The Voyage of Maeldune” in the context of the development of Wigman’s own work, most notably her experiments in her 1930 choreography “Totenmal”.  Additionally, and most importantly, being Visiting Researcher at UL’s Centre for Irish German Studies gave my project the impetus and momentum to move on to the next phase, which I would see as more investigations for evidence of Erina Brady, or, “Erin O’Brady” in Switzerland, particularly at the League of Nations and around the Utopian community at Monte Verita, which was just 30km away from “Casa Erina”, the Brady family home in Brione, Ticino, Switzerland.