Correspondences

Reflecting the increased networking and internationalization of dance during the 1920s and 1930s, correspondences linked the era’s leading exponents of dance culture to dance lovers, critics, and scholars. Friderica Derra de Moroda, too, wrote and received a steady stream of letters, postcards, and telegrams that formed the basis of a pan-European network, enabling her to create and maintain professional as well as private contacts within the dance community. She was a keen correspondent in the multiple senses of the word: a writer of letters, a reporter, and an “ambassador for dance.”

Among Derra de Moroda’s correspondents were not only icons of modern dance such as Kurt Jooss and Harald Kreutzberg, but also dance cognoscenti who are (almost) forgotten today. These included the Russian Jewish emigrant Joseph Lewitan (1894–1976), the founder of the magazine Der Tanz (The Dance) and a well-educated polyglot, cosmopolitan, and renowned dance critic based in Berlin. Derra de Moroda and Lewitan shared the enthusiasm for dance. The letters they exchanged between 1933 and 1938 reflect their open-mindedness and passionate involvement in the polymorphic dance culture of their time, which was overshadowed by the rise of Nazism. The shifting political constellations led Lewitan—“taking into account the general conditions in this country,” as he wrote to Derra de Moroda on July 6, 1933—to retire from the magazine and ultimately drove him to emigrate to the United States.