Hampshire College Archives Announces Exhibits Related To The Life And Work Of Barbara Mettler

The Hampshire College Archives is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibit entitled Living Dance: Selections From The Barbara Mettler Collection From The Hampshire College Archives on the first floor of the library. The exhibit is free and open to the public. This exhibit will be up through the month of September and its opening corresponds with the opening of an online exhibit dedicated to Mettler’s life, work and legacy. The permanent online exhibit can be viewed here: http://hampshirearchives.omeka.net/exhibits/show/living-dance.


Barbara Mettler, dancer, dance educator, author, and film and video producer, developed her own style of modern dance, which emphasized improvisation. Her core principles were beauty, freedom, and democracy. Mettler believed dance was a fundamental human activity, of which all people are capable, as opposed to an elite, choreographed performance art. She developed a unique dance pedagogy at her Mettler Studios and taught widely to adults and children of all backgrounds. Her students later formed the International Association for Creative Dance to carry the principles of her work forward. The Barbara Mettler Archive came to Hampshire College in 2003, bequeathed to Hampshire in her will.

Barbara Mettler was born on March 12, 1907 in Chicago, Ill. She attended Smith College, and studied dance with Mary Wigman in Dresden, Germany from 1931-33. Upon returning from Germany, she taught dance in New York City from 1934-40, and moved to Sanbornton, then Meredith, NH, where she taught summer workshops in converted barn studios from 1941-1953. From 1943-46 she taught dance at Keuka College in upstate New York. In 1953-54, she toured the east coast with a small dance troupe in a converted bus. In later years she often toured with a small group of advanced students. Mettler taught in the Boston area until 1961, when she moved to Arizona, where she taught at Arizona State College in Flagstaff and the University of Arizona. She established the Tucson Creative Dance Center in 1963, where she taught summer and winter workshops. Mettler spent the last decades of her life teaching dance around the U.S. and in Europe. Throughout her career, Mettler wrote books and articles and produced films and videotapes detailing her methods of dance instruction. Barbara Mettler died in 2002.


The materials in the first floor and online exhibits are just a sample of the Barbara Mettler Collection. For more information about Mettler’s work and legacy or about the Hampshire Archives, contact the Archivist at archives@hampshire.edu or stop by the 3rd floor of the Library. For more about the Archives, visit our web page: http://www.hampshire.edu/library/index_archives.htm.

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