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Ankündigungsprogramm, Gastspiel von Sada Yacco in München 1902 | © Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München

“Der moderne Tanz” (The Modern Dance) by Erst Schur, the first book about the new dance art, was published in 1910 by Gustav Lammers in Munich and is typeset in Ehmcke-Antiqua | © Betz Collection

Dance and Typography I

The beginnings of the new art form of modern dance coincided with the flourishing of the life reform movement and it’s many aspirations for reform of diverse aspects of life ranging from nutrition and physical culture to clothing and architecture. In the design of everyday objects, too, new practicality and beauty were intended to ennoble life and bring it closer to art. The Deutscher Werkbund was founded in Munich in 1907. Since 1895, individual publishing houses and magazines such as “Pan”, “Jugend”, “Simplicissimus” and “Die Insel” in Munich had been dedicating themselves to improved craftsmanship and artistic book design and against the aberrations of taste associated with historicism and the inferior mass production of the publishing trade. Book artists were responsible for the overall design of each book and for the interaction among all its components. The Art Nouveau style characterised books published around the turn of the century, but a phase of typographical renewal began afterwards. New typefaces were designed accordingly. The first book on modern dance appeared in 1910: without cover illustrations, its design relied solely on its typeface in tandem with coloured paper. The embossed capital letters at the head of each section and the entire typography of the volume are set in Ehmcke Antiqua, which was designed and cut by Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke in 1907 and had been available since 1909 from the Flinsch type foundry in Frankfurt am Main. Ernst Schur, the author of “Der moderne Tanz“ (The Modern Dance), promoted a new art of book design. Various relationships between book design and the art of dance can be traced in the subsequent institutionalisation of the new dance in the press.

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