Valéria Dienes (1879-1978)

Dr. Valéria Dienes (maiden name: Geiger Valéria; husband: Paul Dienes) was a movement artist, choreographer, dance pedagogue, and dance theorist. Born in Szekszárd (Hungary), 25 May 1879, died in Budapest on 8 June 1978.

She was habilitated as a professor in philosophy, mathematics and aesthetics in 1905, Budapest, while attending the piano and composer department of the Music Academy in the same period. Besides essays on philosophy, pedagogy and aesthetics, she also published the translations of the works of French and English philosophers. Continued her studies at the College de France of Paris between 1908-12 as the student of Henri Bergson. She got acquainted with the art of Isadora Duncan at the same time seeing three of her performances at the Chatelet, then participated in Raymond Duncan’s Greek gymnastics courses. These two impressions raised her interest in the systematization of human movements.

In 1912 she started her own course in Budapest called Greek gymnastics, which name she turned to Orkesztika School from 1917. She wrote the first Hungarian essay on dance theory (Magyar Iparművészet, Hungarian Applied Arts, l915/7.).
The school’s introduction to the public (1st April, 1917, Uránia Színház.) was the first Hungarian free dance (later art-of-movement) performance. This was followed by many more performances (in Vienna and Belgrad too) with the variety of choreographies, as "Kinderszenen” (1917, music by Schumann), "Szeretőm táncol” (My Lover Dances) (1918, music by Bartók), poem-dances, as "Danaidák” (1918, a poem by Mihály Babits1), many choreographies for the musical pieces of Bach, Brahms, Debussy, Beethoven and for György Kósa’s musical tale in 1920 titled "The Princess Who Never Laughed”.

Between 1920-22 she taught in Vienna, then Nice, and joined the Duncan-colony in Paris (with her two children). Returning to Hungary in 1923 she taught in Mrs. László Domokos’ school, the ”Új Iskola” (New School) and reopened her own Orkesztika School. Its first performance was the "Hajnalvárás” (Waiting for Dawn) movement choir in 1925 for ancient greek melodies, which was followed by the "A nyolc boldogság” (The eight happyness) in 1926, both performances were composed for her own poems.

From the 1930’s she choreoraphed historical movement choirs of great dimensions, based on the medieval mysteries, for which the basis were her own lyrics and mostly Lajos Bárdos’ music, as the "Szent Imre misztérium” (Saint Emery’s Mystery) (1930, 1931), "A rózsák szentje” (The Saint of Roses) (1932, music by Gy. Kerényi), "A gyermek útja” (The Child’s Way) (1935) with almost a thousand performers, on the outdoor stage of the Városliget (Budapest’s City Park). The movement choir "Patrona Hungariae” (1938) introduces in 11 orchémas how the Hungarian King István the First offers his country to the Madonna, who, as their patroinizing saint leads the Hungarians through their great historical afflictions. Her later movement choir is "Az élet kenyere” (The Bread of Life) (1940, music by Bárdos). – Her biblical pieces are "Magvető” (Sower) (1933), "Menyegző” (Wedding), "Tíz szűz” (Ten Virgins) (1934), "Az anya” (The Mother) (1937). She started creating poem-dances (as poem interpretations in dance) very early, as Mihály Babits’ "Laudomeia kórusok” (Laudomeia Choirs) (1917), "Danaidák” (Danaidas) (1918), many poems and poetic portraits later in the "Engem nem látott senki sem” (Nobody Has Ever Seen Me) (1930), as Rabindranah Tagore’s "Végtelen út vándora vagyok” (I’m The Wanderer of an Endless Road) (1930), and Sándor Sík’s "Nézek szembe a nappal” (I’m Facing The Sun) (1930). In the same time musical pieces are danced as Beethoven’s "Mondschein Sonate” (1918), "Debussy Tánc” (Debussy Dance) (1918), "Két sirató ének” (Two grieving song) by Bartók (1918), "Fegyvertánc” (Weapon Dance) (1933, music by Gluck), "Kék álom” (Blue Dream) (1935, music by Gershwin), or movement picturesques comosed for musical selections, as "A női divat története” (The History of Women’s Fashion) (1931) in 8 pieces, or the "Kínai templomkertben” (In a Chinese Church Garden) (1935). – Tales with her own lyrics were the "Hamupipőke” (Cinderella) (1934, music by preclassical composers), "Hófehérke” (Snow White) (1940, music: montage), the "Csipkerózsa” (Sleeping Beauty) (1931, music: montage). On Margit Bethlen’s "Meseest” (A Tale Evening) Valéria Dienes participated with the performance of "Fehér királylány” (White Princess) (1929, music by Schubert), which became the part of the only art-of-movement moving picture in 1930. From 1929 was the associate chairman of the "Mozdulatkultúra Egyesület” (Movementculture Association) Her institute, where hundreds of student grew up also was the home for teacher’s training from 1929 with classes like movement system, functional anatomy, dance- and art history, the school remained open until the 18th March 1944.

Her movement system is named Orkesztika, that is the science of the human movements, which through the analysis of the movements wants to discover the interactions and communication, the structure, the functions. The movement of the human body is situated in space, happens in time, requires power and has meaning. By these basic ideas the system’s sections are the study of space ("plasztika”), the study of time ("ritmika”), the study of power ("dinamika”) and the study of semantics ("mimika”, later for Babits’ suggestion "szimbolika”). It distinguishes the moves of the dead matter, as it only has cause but not intention, from the moves of the living creature, the movement, that has cause and can have intention, (when it is to communicate something) That’s the reason for using the term "art-of-movement” In plasztika we concern the body as the movement-phantom, that is built of body units, as lines and turning points that connect them. Plasztika makes a distinction between the change of posture ("relatív kinetika”) and the change of space ("abszolút kinetika”). Ritmika, as the articulation of time differentiates the patterns of time in the case of movement, music and language. Dinamika explains the changing relations between the power of the muscles and gravitation by the means of waves of energy. Szimbolika is observing the social functions of the spectator’s receptions. This relation is observed by the "evologika”.

Written by G.P. Dienes and Márk Fenyves 2004