Claire Eckstein

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Claire (Cläre) Eckstein (born July 8, 1904 in Allendorf / Hessen , † September 25, 1994 in Munich ) was a German modern dancer and choreographer .


As the daughter of a Protestant pastor, Claire Eckstein experienced her early training at the school for rhythmic gymnastics from Lucy Heyer, in the years 1921–1923 in Munich and then moved to Mary Wigman's school in Dresden until 1924 . Appearances in the Festspielhaus Hellerau followed .

In 1925, Claire Eckstein was appointed to the Stadttheater Würzburg as a movement director, solo dancer and leader of the rhythmic courses for the entire staff. The first successful own productions and choreographies were created: Der Demon , Der Leierkasten and Scheherazade . At the same time as Claire Eckstein, the director Arthur Maria Rabenalt and the set designer Wilhelm Reinking were appointed to the theater. It was the beginning of a congenial collaboration and lifelong friendship. In 1927 she married Reinking.

In 1927, all three moved to the Hessisches Landestheater Darmstadt , where Claire Eckstein worked as a dance director (later: dance master) and head of the physical education courses. Under the direction of Carl Ebert , this stage became one of the most progressive German theaters of its time by the Rabenalt-Reinking-Eckstein team (also jokingly dubbed “Rabenkingstein AG”).

Claire Eckstein's own productions and choreographies in addition to the other collaboration include Above and Below to Rhapsodie nègre by Francis Poulenc , Der Leierkasten , Der arme Guerino by Tullo Massarani (world premiere ), Le bœuf sur le toit , Parade , The Wedding in Cremona , Soirée , A senior official and The Stranded . With Soirée, Claire Eckstein played a key role in the German Dance Week for the 3rd German Dancer Congress in Munich. Her stage partner was Edwin Denby .

Finally, the capital of the Reich signed the trio, namely the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm and the Volksbühne . Here, the tried and tested concept of theater, operetta, opera with dances in Die Regimentstaschen and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein was implemented with great success for the city audience. In addition to choreographic work for the film, Claire Eckstein received engagements in Werner Finck's catacomb and in the winter garden. In autumn 1932 there was a two-month guest performance with Edwin Denby for Erik Charell in Paris with Im Weisse Rößl and in January both were in the opening program of Erika Mann's Munich cabaret Pfeffermühle . After this work Denby left Germany for political reasons and returned to his homeland, the United States.

When the working group had to disband due to public pressure, Claire Eckstein moved to Munich in 1936. During this time she fell ill with multiple sclerosis and only worked occasionally, for example in an advisory capacity on the film Anuschka .

She remained involved in this advisory activity even after the war, including rehearsing the dances for the German premiere of Die Irre von Chaillot ( Münchener Kammerspiele ), working on the films Zarewitsch and Gypsy Baron and dancing management of the young film department at Bavaria Film .


Claire Eckstein's work was very “innovative”, and many of the theatrical means she used were only rediscovered for dance decades later (and certainly in ignorance of her works).

“She doesn't dance 'Weltanschauung' like Mary Wigman, but simply serenity. If one could say of Mary Wigman that she dances Stefan George , one could say of Eckstein that she dances Tucholsky or Ringelnatz […] ”, writes Hans Sahl in his memoirs of a moralist. Memories I. Zürich 1983, p. 194. "The Eckstein is magical because you never forget for a moment that it is fun to have fun, which is known to be the death penalty in Germany."

Claire Eckstein did not want to cause concern, she wanted to entertain the audience, and to do so on a high level that was attested by all sides.

Selection of works

  • March 20, 1926 Paul Hindemith “The Demon”, Stadttheater Würzburg
  • March 5, 1927 Jaap Kool “Der Leierkasten”, Stadttheater Würzburg
  • October 20, 1927 Poulenc "Above and Below", Landestheater Darmstadt
  • November 20, 1928 Massarani “The poor Guerino”, Landestheater Darmstadt
  • November 20, 1928 Darius Milhaud “Le boeuf sur le toit”, Landestheater Darmstadt
  • November 30, 1929 Michail Iwanowitsch Glinka “The Wedding in Cremona”, Landestheater Darmstadt
  • February 11, 1930 Eckstein “Soirée”, Landestheater Darmstadt
  • June 20, 1930 F. Schmitt “A Higher Official”, Landestheater Darmstadt
  • June 20, 1930 Eckstein “Die Strandeten”, Landestheater Darmstadt

Responsible for ballet in:


  • Frank-Manuel Peter : "Not 'Weltanschauung', but cheerfulness par excellence". Claire Eckstein. In: dance drama. Issue 26, 1994, pp. 22-27.
  • Wilhelm Reinking: Play and Form. Workshop reports from a set designer. Christians, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 3-7672-0628-5 .
  • Hans Sahl: Memories of a moralist. Exile in exile. most recently Luchterhand, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3630872780 .
  • Arthur Maria Rabenalt: Operetta as a task. Essays on the operetta crisis. In: Arthur Maria Rabenalt: Collected writings. Volume 3. Olms, Hildesheim 2006, pp. 1-28.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Curriculum vitae on the website of Claire Eckstein of the German Dance Archive Cologne, see web links