Co-Founder/Artistic Director of Group Motion
Dancer, Performance Artist, Choreographer, Movement Educator, Shamanic Practitioner
Born 1938 in Weimar, Germany at the dawn of the Second World War, Brigitta grew up in a household of musicians, which led to early childhood involvement with performance in Dance, Opera and Theater at her hometown opera house the D e u t s c h e s N a t i o n a l T h e a t e r in WeImar, Germany.
She received her professional classical dance training at the Palucca Academy of Dance in Dresden, Germany (1954-56) and continued Modern Dance training at the Mary Wigman School of Dance in West Berlin, Germany (1957-62) graduating in dance/choreography/dance education.
Brigitta is co-founder/director/choreographer of MOTION Berlin, Germany (1962-68),
“MOTION Berlin, an artistic three-leaved rose with a future....” (Kurier, Walter Kaul, 1964)...” and than one was at once electrified......abstract works of moving art emerged within the empty space...
reminding of contemporary, experimental American dance... it appears like a miracle that this avandgardism bloomed in Berlin...”
Co-founder/director of Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater (1968 -88 & 2003-present) and of
A u s d r u c k s t a n z D a n c e T h e a t e r ( A D T )(1988 -2004), co-founder/director of
DanceWorkspace, Philadelphia (1989 -1996), and co-founder of the Friday Night Workshop (FNW) originated from a Group Motion dancers studio practice session under the verbal guidance of Brigitta Herrmann in interaction with live music by Manfred Fischbeck (synthesizer) and other musicians. (1971 ’til present)
In 2018, together with Manfred Fischbeck, Anna Beresin and Elia Sinaiko, she co-authored and published “Group Motion in Practice: Collective Creation through Dance Movement Improvisation”.
Her artistic work extends from choreography of abstract solo dances to evening length works that weave music, voice, poetry, image and stage design into interdisciplinary performance, and installations and events sourced by improvisational structures that celebrate spontaneous collective creation.
Following her interest in Healing Arts studies Brigitta enrolled in a MA program of Somatic Psychology/Dance/Movement Therapy at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. where she also served as adjunct professor; teaching, lecturing, choreographing, and performing for their dance program. (1999-2003)
Returning to Philadelphia 2003 Brigitta resumed artistic direction/collaboration with Manfred Fischbeck in celebration of Group Motion’s 35th anniversary with a commission by the Philadelphia Dance Collection and the re-staging of “Beyond The Eastern Standard Time” a work from 1973. Her autobiographical solo work, "Wandering Mind
& ...Matters” invites reflection on past and present events, and is performed and documented for the Philadelphia Dance Archives.
Inclusive of documenting her Mary Wigman lineage she reconnected with former partner Hellmut Gottschild through interviews and reflections upon their shared past as students of Mary Wigman, and as collaborators of MOTION Berlin and of GMMMDT.
In addition to performing her own works Brigitta performed in the works of national and international choreographers and companies including: M a r y Wi g m a n’ s “Le Sacre Du Printemps” at the Berlin Opera House, Germany (1959), B i r g i t C u l l b e r g ’ s choreography at Beireuth Festival, Germany for Richard Wagner Opera’s, (1959/60/61/62/63)
In “From the Horses Mouth” by T i n a Cr o l l a n d Jamie C u n n i n g h a m; S u s a n n e L i n k e ’ s choreography (Quasi Normal) for Jeanne Ruddy Dance; Jeanne Rudy’s choreography; (Out of the Mist: Above the Real); (The Show Must Go On) created by J e ro m e B e l ; (museum of dance) created by B o r i s C h a r m a t z ; (Beautiful Decay ) choreography by N i c o l o F o n t e f o r B a l l e t X .
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1979)
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) Fellowships (1987, 1989, 1991)
PCA project grants (1992,1993)
Dance Advance project grant to produce PHYSIOGNOMY OF THE SPIRIT. A program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable
Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, (2008).
Workspace for Choreographers (1996, 1997)
WHYY, Channel 12, ‘Spot Light Series’, for EARTHMATTERS,
Seven Arts Festival, Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia,
The Institute for Contemporary Arts & Isaiah Zagar, performance as part of an exhibition of the works of Zagar.(1991).
CONCORD, dance company of the Philadelphia College for the Performing Arts. to produce “MITOTE II”.(1983)
Commission by the Yellow Spring Institute for the Arts, to produce ORBIT, performed at the Yellow Springs Institute, PA.(1980)
Performer, choreographer, director, writer, musician and teacher
Manfred Fischbeck was born in Tanzania, Africa, and spent his formative years at the end of World War II and the period after the War in Stendal, East Germany. He began his musical studies at an early age with practice on piano and violin and singing in the choir. At age 14 he left East Germany and went to West Berlin to join a boarding school for East German refugees. Upon completion of high
school, he attended the Freie Universitaet in West Berlin with studies in theater, philosophy, literature, and poetry.
From 1961-65, Manfred was co-director and actor with
KARUSSELL, a theater company at the university. Subsequently he served under the artistic direction of Ruediger Tuchel as co-artistic director and leading actor with PROVISORISCHES THEATER, where he was instrumental in lifting the boycott on the works of
Bertold Brecht through the premiere of “Im Dickicht der Staedte”, the first Brecht play since the end of the War in West Berlin. He held leading roles in plays such as: “The Good God of Manhattan” by I. Bachmann, “The Thumb Waiter” by H. Pinter, “In the Jungle of the Cities” by B.Brecht and “Saved” by E. Bond (under the direction of Peter Zadek) In 1966 he played a leading role in “Mord and Totschlag”, a major motion picture directed by Volker Schloendorff.
In 1967 he joined forces with Gruppe Motion as a dramaturge to create their first Multi Media Dance Theater work: “Count Down for Orpheus”. In 1968 he relocated to Philadelphia to expand his collaboration and including dance studies with Brigitta Herrmann and Hellmut Gottschild and to broaden his involvement choreographing, directing, performing and touring with the company.
In 1971 Herrmann and Fischbeck created the Group Motion
Workshop as an outgrowth of their work with the company.
Under his sole direction (1989-2002) Group Motion received various grants, fellowships and residency awards from organizations such as: Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and Dance Advance, from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the PRDI and Dance Advance programs from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, and Independence Foundation, among others.
Manfred has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Ballet
Contemporaneo in San Martin, Buenos Aires, and has conducted residencies in Tokyo, Taipei, Taiwan, and Germany during the summers of 1993 – 2000, and more recently in 2009 at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. Under Manfred’s artistic direction, Group Motion developed a body of over 40 dance theater works and collaborations.
The creation of new work with prominent national and international artists and arts organizations includes:
Architect Joseph Wong, (China) and composers Phil Kline (New York), Andrea Clearfield (Philadelphia), Tim Motzer (Philadelphia) and Peter Price (Philadelphia).
Leading dance artists and choreographers include:: Carol Brown (London), Kenshi Nohmi and Akiko Kitamura (Japan), Oscar Araiz (Argentina), Masaki Iwana (Paris / Tokyo), Wally Cardona (New York), and Philadelphia locals Rennie Harris, Kun Yang Lin, and Silvana Cardell.
Recent collaborators include: composer Andrea Clearfield, artist Maureen Drdak and ‘Network for New Music’ in the creation and performance of “Lung-Ta – the Windhorse,”
Visual Artist / Writer Quintan Ana Wikswo, along with composer Andrea Clearfield in the creation and performance of “Schwarzer Tod and the Useless Eaters” and “Califia and the Trespassers.” Choreographer Susan Rethorst in the creation of “Then,” a new multi-media dance theater work.
In 2019, together with Brigitta Herrmann, Anna Beresin and Elia Sinaiko; he co-authored and published the book Group Motion in Practice -Collective Creation through Dance Moment Improvisation.
Manfred’s creative process has long incorporated technology and other artistic media as resources for imaginative material. He has integrated choreographic software with film and live dance in “Computer Dance”, premiered at the III. Technology Symposium, in
New London, CT and has utilized various interactive technologies (the Soundbeam – an interactive device translating movement into sound, compositional computer software programs, and video) in projects and performances, providing new possibilities for both composition and choreography. Manfred’s poetry has been performed at the Live Arts/Fringe Festival and his musical compositions have been integrated into a wide variety of contexts
from classes, to workshops, to performances and collaborations with musicians, composers, dance artists and companies.
Manfred has been an integral part of the city’s educational
community. From 1983 to 2021, he was on the faculty of the University of the Arts as both Full Time and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Dance and the School of Theater (where he directed various productions such as “No Exit” by Sartre and “Metamorphosis”, based on Kafka). From 1982 to the present he has lectured regularly as part of the Theater Arts Department of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011 he became lecturer at Georgian
As a representative of the dance community, Manfred has served on the Dance Panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts from 1976-79, on the Board of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance from 1972 and on the Board of the Philadelphia Dance Alliance from 1986-89. In 1996, Manfred initiated the creation of the Kumquat Dance Center, a collective of diverse professional dance companies and artists who shared studio, theater and office space at the Community Education Center, 3500 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104.