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Mettler Oral History Transcripts

The Mettler archive includes a number of audiotapes, some of which are oral histories recorded by Barbara Mettler herself, with a few recordings of interviews or conversations with her students or other interested people.

Germany, Life Before and In, 1933 (pdf)
Barbara Mettler describes her life both before and during her time in Germany at Mary Wigman's school. She begins by talking about her German husband, Allan Hammer, and the problems they faced in rural New Hampshire during WWII, when Germans were suspected of being German spies. She then describes something of her early life, and how she became interested in dance. Then she discusses her experiences at the Wigman school and daily life in Germany in 1931-1933. Finally she returns to her life with Allan in Depression-era New York City.

Tour Story, 1955 (pdf)
This is a lengthy description of the bus tour that Barbara Mettler took with four other dancers in a converted bus in 1953-54. The tour took them to various engagements down the east coast of the U.S., stopping at colleges and YMCAs to give workshops and performances. They wintered in Florida, where they used the time to make a film on Mettler-based dance, then travelled north through the midwest and home to New Hampshire. The bus tour was years ahead of its time, many trailer parks wanting nothing to do with a party of three women and two men travelling and living together, even though the sleeping arrangements were strictly segregated. Since this was before the interstate highways were built, the driving was also a challenge.

Larita Institute Interview, 1963 (pdf)
In this short interview, Barbara Mettler describes in broad strokes the purpose of the newly completed Tucson Creative Dance Center and her work in teaching creative dance.

Relation to Isadora Duncan, 1976 (pdf)
In this very brief statement, Barbara Mettler describes the influence of Isadora Duncan and Mary Wigman on her form of dance, and gives an short outline of her teaching.

Interview I (pdf) and Interview II (pdf), (ca. 1979)
Barbara Mettler in an informal conversation with a long time student concerning the theoretical basis for her teaching. They debate its distinction from modern dance, dance therapy, contact improvisation, and performance dance, and touch on its spiritual dimensions. Barbara Mettler stresses freedom, but her teaching involves discipline and method in the study of force, time, and space. She reflects on the origin and evolution of its method, as well as the changing backgrounds and expectations of her students over her 45 years of teaching.

Costa Rica, 1979 (pdf)
This is a tape of Barbara Mettler speaking to her staff about her recent trip to Costa Rica, and her experiences with living in the country and teaching classes in movement. She speaks highly of the people of Costa Rica despite cultural differences.

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