Introduction to Anne Rudolph’s Journal

For fifty years she operat­ed the Anne Rudolph School of Modern Body Education and Dance, offering techniques she de­veloped in Germany during the early 1930s. Her students were not only dancers but other people seeking to improve the use of their bodies. They included actors, athletes, physical-fitness buffs and recuperating stroke victims. She lived from 1907-1988.

At the time Anne was writing these diaries she was teaching dance and movement at the Fine Arts Building at 410 S Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

A large building

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She had seen that her work was a benefit to injured dancers. They would arrive at her studio “broken” as she would say. By applying her body education method these dancers were able to get back on the professional stage. Soon non-dancers heard that she could “fix” their bodies, and the nature of her work changed to focus on women’s physical, emotional, and attitudinal health, all through Body Education. Anne began to observe the shop girls who worked along Michigan Ave., and observing their poor posture and concomitant low self-esteem she set about a plan to extend her work to them.

When I met Anne, she was teaching in a studio especially built for her in the new Uptown Hull House Theatre located at 4520 N. Beacon St., Chicago. Sadly, Uptown Hull House Theatre has been turned into a condo complex. 

A clock on the side of a building

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I met Anne in 1972 in Chicago. I was performing at Otto’s Beer House and Garden Club on North Halstead St. in their outdoor garden venue. The name of our theatre company was “Geoffrey Buckley’s Commedia dell’ Arte Gelosi Company.” We performed commedia dell’ Arte scenarios. The ensemble was comprised of Ken Raabe, Jack Phend, Julie Phend, Jane Raabe, Gail Wahlenfeld, me (John Szostek), and Geoffrey Buckley, England’s foremost mime and Pierrot interpreter. One night we performed, “The Household of Pantalone,” and “Pierrot and Mr. Fox.” In the audience was Anne Rudolph and her husband, Howard Bartfield. After the show, Anne approached me and said she enjoyed my performance as Pantalone, but as a mover, she said I was a fraud. Anne said I should come take classes with her and that classes would always be free. She also said I should come to see her at her home. “I want to give you something,” she said.

Intrigued by the “fraud” statement, I went to her class. She had a studio in the Uptown Hull House Theatre on Beacon St. that was built especially for her. Her classes were mostly floor work and her students a mix of older non-performers and a few professional movers. The work was simple, slow and conscious, and challenging. I could feel the deep imbalances in my body. The “fraud” remark was about my feet. I lacked foundation. Slowly, over time, I felt more integrated, whole, and less fraudulent. Along the way I met and worked with Anne’s teachers, Muriel Aronson, Teena Schuster (Sweet), and Jill Lending. Anne gave me permission to teach her work.

Years after Anne’s death I took her up on her encouragement to start a theatre. That is how Piccolo Theatre in Evanston, Illinois started. I taught her work to our ensemble and had a section on our website about her. One day an auction buyer of paper ephemera, Ron Slattery, called me and said he had purchased some paper at an estate sale and there was a diary written by Anne Rudolph. He said my reference to her on the Piccolo Theatre website was the only one he could find. He asked if I wanted to buy it. I did. Months later he called again and said he found another one. I also bought it. What you see here are these two diaries. Anne had always wanted to publish her work. This may not have been what she had in mind, but it is her mind.

I dedicate this website to the life and work of Anne Rudolph, master teacher of movement and dance. If you knew Anne or experienced her work, I would love to add your memory, photos, and expressions of gratitude to this website. You can leave a comment on any post or send me a message using the contact form below.

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