An Addendum—Emma Lewis Thomas

By Joan Woodbury

In 1955–56 when I wrote the two articles about Mary Wigman for Dance Observer (long since out of print), it wasn't until I had written the last of the two that I realized I had omitted mentioning one of my dear American friends in Berlin who was also attending the Wigman Schule—and the only one of us who had professional experience dancing with Mary in Germany. Her name is Emma Lewis Thomas, and we all called her “Junior.” When I realized my omission I immediately contacted the folks at Dance Observer about it and they replied by saying, “We’re very sorry, but the article is at the printers.” That was that! Then, throughout the years I simply forgot the incident.

This photo was taken between November 1955 and probably April 1956 in Mary Wigman’s home. Far left: Nahami Abbell (from Chicago, a longtime pupil and friend of Mary), Betty Bowman (dance faculty member from University of Ten­nessee), Emma Lewis Thomas (from West Virginia, called “Junior” at that time, who danced with Mary Wigman in Mannheim and Berlin until 1959), Joan Wood­bury, Mary Wigman seated on the floor, three unidentified individuals, and “Hesschen” (Anna Hess, Mary’s long time house companion) seated facing front. Photo by Charles Woodbury

This past year, when Emma Lew and I recon­nected, she reminded me that I had not men­tioned her in my articles, and of course, I was completely chagrinned. I don't know if we even had the word “brain-cramp” in our vo­cab­ularies at the time, but that was certainly what I must have had.

While I studied with Mary during the 1955–56 school season, Emma Lew stayed in Berlin with Mary until 1959, dancing in her major works in Mannheim. You will see her not only in the photo my husband took in 1955 but more importantly in the professional photos below of Wigman’s Rite of Spring where she is dancing just behind famous German dancer Dora Hoyer. Since that time Emma Lew has con­stantly been invited to return to Germany to teach throughout her illustrious career as Professor of Dance at U.C.L.A. in Southern Cali­fornia, and in fact last returned to Berlin to teach in the fall of 2013.

I just wanted apologize for my omission and at the same time set the records straight.

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