Dance / Scenes

Friderica Derra de Moroda

Throughout her life, Friderica Derra de Moroda (b. Bratislava, 1897—d. Salzburg, 1978), the founder of the Derra de Moroda Dance Archives in Salzburg, was actively dedicated to the promotion of dance and dance knowledge, a goal she pursued through dancing, choreographing, teaching, writing, and scholarship. Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to parents with Greek and Hungarian roots, she effortlessly traversed a variety of national and cultural spheres, variously living in Munich, Vienna, the Baltic countries, Russia, and Berlin before settling in England. During the Nazi era, she moved to Germany and finally to Salzburg. Trained as a classical dancer but always fascinated by the latest developments in free dance, she made a career in England in the vaudevillian productions of the music halls and established her own dance school modeled on the work of Enrico Cecchetti, the influential ballet master at the Ballets Russes.

A keen correspondent on everything dance-related, she cultivated a wide-ranging network of professional and private contacts. As a scholar, she was a lover of Hungarian folk dances as well as the court dances of the Renaissance, which also provided inspiration for her own choreographies. She was a “dilettante” in the best sense, “delighting” in dance; her activities showed neither adherence to conventional order nor any critical political awareness. Her all-embracing love of dance in all its diversity is reflected by the heterogeneity of her collection of dance artifacts. It is informed by Derra de Moroda’s personal proclivities, preferences, and priorities as much as by her individual perspective on dance. Her focus was on movement and physicality—in dance, collecting, and in research, as well as in her occupation with both dance history and current trends in the dance of her time.