Color aquatint with drypoint, ca. 1927. Often considered the most popular performer in Germany in the 1930s and 40s, Harald Kreutzberg (German: 1902 – 1968) was a pioneering Modern dancer, known for his solo performances that combined dance with mime. He studied at the Dresden Ballet School while also pursuing Modern dance under Mary Wigman and Rudolf Laban. By 1928 he was touring throughout the U.S. and Canada with dance partner Yvonne Georgi; then, Europe and the Far East with American ballerina Ruth Page. He retired in 1959, and opened his own dancing school in Bern, Switzerland. In a rare late-life performance he appeared as both Drosselmeyer and the Snow King in the televised 1965 German-American production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”. It was considered the most successful broadcast version of the beloved work until it was superseded by Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1977.
This image captures Kreutzberg as his star was beginning to rise, in a costume that has become iconic of his early years. The flowing cape and pants, tassel earrings, and accentuated facial features were famously captured by Madame d’Ora in 1927 in a black and white photograph of him and Georgi, and again in the oil painting “The Esthete” by William Valentine Schevill.