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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. Dance was conceived as a fundamental human activity, of which all people are capable, as opposed to an elite, choreographed, performance art. She taught widely, to diverse lay people, including adults, children, and the handicapped, primarily from her own Mettler Studios. 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. The Finding Aid for the collection is a complete description of the material in the collection. The digital items in this website which represent her work were made possible by a grant from the Barbara Mettler Trust in 2011.
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. In 1979, at the request of a student, she taught at the School of Sport Science at the National University in San Jose, Costa Rica, studying Spanish in order to be able to communicate more effectively. She was also invited to teach workshops 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.