FOUNDERS AND DIRECTORS
Brigitta Herrmann - Director
and Shamanic practitioner with over fifty years of extensive experience.
Anchored in the Mary Wigman tradition of dance, her work expresses her
cross-cultural roots, her passion and commitment to awareness practices and transformation.
Brigitta is co-founder/director of MOTION Berlin, Germany (1962 -
68), Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater (1968 -present) Ausdruckstanz: Imprints in Motion (1988 -2008), and DanceWorkspace, Philadelphia (1989 -1996). She is co-author of “Group
Motion in Practice: Collective Creation through Dance Movement
Improvisation”. Her ongoing interest with Healing Arts include research and practice such as: Yoga, Body Mind Centering, Live Arts Process, Kinetic Awareness, REIKI, Reflexology, Hands of Light (energy healing), and Sound Healing.
Born 1938 in Weimar, Germany at the dawn of the Second World War, Brigitta grew up in a household of musicians, which lead to early involvement with performance (age 8 to 16). She studied Dance, Opera and Theater at the Deutsches National Theater i n WeImar, Germany. She received professional classical dance training at the Palucca Academy of Dance in Dresden, Germany (1954/56) and at the Mary Wigman School of Dance, In West Berlin, Germany (1957-’62). Graduating in 1962 that same year she launched MOTION, Berlin (1962-68) together with Hellmut Gottschild and Katharine Sehnert. MOTION, Berlin a modern dance company recognized as the only independent dance company at that time, performed and toured in Germany and in Yugoslavia.
“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 avantgardism bloomed in Berlin...”
1967, for their first Multi Media Dance Theater production entitled “CountDown for Orpheus” the company expanded with four additional dancers and with Manfred Fischbeck joining as a dramaturge.
1968, Herrmann, Gottschild and Fischbeck relocated to the US, where they reinstated the company in Philadelphia under the name of Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater (GMMMDT). They performed at Judson Church in New York in 1968, and at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 1969, where they received immediate critical acclaim. GMMMDT incorporated and participated with the National Endowment for the Arts touring program in the 1970s. Gottschild left the company in 1971 to found Zero Moving Company, while Fischbeck and Herrmann continued as co-directors.
1971, Brigitta Herrmann and Manfred Fischbeck developed and established the Group Motion Workshop, an outgrowth of their work with the Group Motion company. Ongoing they direct and conduct this acclaimed workshop, which has toured nationally and abroad, traveling through Germany, France, Argentina, Barbados and Japan. For over 40 years, it has been held regularly on Friday nights at the CEC in Philadelphia, PA.
The Group Motion Workshop is a guided process of dance/movement improvisation with live music. It combines highly refined structures of improvisation, movement and contact dance. Open to
all levels of dance experience these structures are practiced in ways of playing, discovering and experiencing individually and collectively. Compositions and choreographic patterns can be spontaneously created and experienced. The Group Motion practice creates a ritual
space for building community.
1989, in pursuit of honoring the principles and philosophy of Mary Wigman and inspired by the work of Pina Bausch, Brigitta joined with Michael A Carson in founding and directing A u s d r u c k s t a n z : I m p r i n t s i n Motion (AIM, 1989-2003), performing locally, nationally, and
internationally, including the Painted Bride Arts Center, Movement Theater International, Conwell Theater, and Mandell Theater in Philadelphia, and in Germany, with residencies in Frankfurt, Osnabrück, Leipzig, Berlin, Mühlheim, Dresden and Cologne. She co-directed the DanceWorkspace, home and studio of ADT in the New Kensington area of Philadelphia (1989-96).
After the loss of the DanceWorkspace through an electrical fire 1996, and of her Mother in 1997, Brigitta followed her ongoing interest in Healing Arts studies. She attained her MA in Somatic Psychology/Dance/Movement Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder, CO, and served as adjunct professor; teaching, lecturing, choreographing, and performing for their dance program. 2003, marked by Group Motion’s 35th anniversary, Brigitta resumed artistic collaboration with Manfred Fischbeck in the re-staging of “Beyond
The Eastern Standard Time”, a work from 1973; and at commission of
the Philadelphia Dance Collection. In documenting their Mary
Wigman linage 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. Brigitta’s autobiographical solo work, "Wandering Mind
& ...Matters” invites reflection on past and present events, and is performed and documented for the Philadelphia Dance Archives.
With over 100 original pieces of choreography and collaborations, Brigitta’s work is comprised of evening-length multi-media productions, and solo performances. In addition to performing 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; (From the Horses Mouth) Created by T i n a Cr o l l a n d J ami e
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 .
Herrmann has received awards from: the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Dance Advance, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. Commissions include: WHYY Channel 12, Spot Light Series, Philadelphia College for the Performing Arts, choreography for CONCORD Dance Company; the Philadelphia Dance Collection at Temple University: “The Art of Creating Primary Resources in Dance”.
Manfred Fischbeck - Co-Founder
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 home 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.
As his interests expanded to include dance, Manfred studied with Brigitta Herrmann and Hellmut Gottschild of Gruppe Motion Berlin, a Modern Dance company, which evolved from the Mary Wigman School, Berlin. 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 under the co-direction of Herrmann, Gottschild and Fischbeck; the company relocated to Philadelphia, changed its name to Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater and established a new company, theater and workshop. The company received instant recognition at places such as Judson Church in New York and at the Jacobs Pillow Festival in Massachusetts. They were then invited to tour with the NEA Touring Program. In 1971 Gottschild left the company and founded Zero Moving Dance Company. In 1972 Herrmann and Fischbeck created the Group Motion Workshop as an outgrowth of their work with the company. This acclaimed workshop has toured nationally and abroad, traveling through Germany, France, Argentina, Japan, Barbados and Bermuda. While Brigitta Herrmann continued to co-direct the Group Motion Workshop, she founded Ausdruckstanz Dance Theater in 1989, leaving Manfred Fischbeck temporarily the sole artistic/executive director of Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater, while continuing her role as co-director of the Group Motion Workshop. She returned in 2002 to assume her role as co-artistic director.
Choreographing, directing, performing and touring extensively with the Group Motion Company since 1989, Manfred has received various grants, fellowships and residency awards from organizations such as: Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and Dance Advance. Under his artistic directorship of Group Motion, he received support 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 a long history of collaboration and creation of new work with prominent national and international artists and arts organizations. The list includes architect Joseph Wong, (China) and composers Phil Kline (New York), Andrea Clearfield (Philadelphia), Tim Motzer (Philadelphia) and Peter Price (Philadelphia) – to name a few, and leading dance artists and choreographers, including: 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 (one of Philadelphia’s leading contemporary music ensembles) 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,” and also 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.
In addition to creating multi-media dance theater works and leading workshops at Group Motion, Manfred has been an integral part of the city’s educational community. From 1983 to the present he has been 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 Court University. 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, until 2004, at which point Group Motion remained as company in residence at the CEC.