Founders and Directors
A native of Germany, Brigitta Herrmann was born at the dawn of the 2nd World War. She grew up in Weimar, in Soviet Union occupied Germany, during and after the war. She received her first professional dance training at the Palucca Academy of Dance in Dresden, Germany, oriented in the Waganova style of classical Ballet. She left East Germany in 1957 to continue her training with Mary Wigman in West Berlin, Germany with studies in dance, choreography and dance education and graduated in1962. During the same year Brigitta joins in launching and directing Motion Berlin, together with Hellmut Gottschild and Inge Katharine Sehnert. Motion Berlin, a chamber dance company was recognized as the only independent dance company at that time, performing and touring around West Germany and in Yugoslavia.
Relocating to Philadelphia in 1968, Ms. Herrmann continues performing, choreographing, teaching, and touring nationally and internationally with the company that incorporated as Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater. With instant recognition at Judson Church, in New York, and at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, the company is recognized as one at the forefront of American Dance. Ms.Herrmann serves as executive director, choreographer and co-artistic director and performs with the company until 1989.
In the 1970s, Brigitta Herrmann and Manfred Fischbeck develop and establish the Group Motion Workshop, an outgrowth of their work with the Group Motion company. Ongoing they direct and conduct this acclaimed workshop, which has toured nationally and abroad, traveling through Germany, France, Argentina, Barbados and Japan, in addition to being held regularly on Friday nights at the CEC in Philadelphia, PA.
In 1988, Brigitta Herrmann joins with Michael A. Carson in founding Ausdruckstanz Dance Theater (ADT), in pursued of honoring the principles and philosophy of Mary Wigman, and inspired by the work of Pina Bausch. Ms. Herrmann serves as choreographer, dancer and co-artistic director of the company, and directs the DanceWorkspace, home and studio of ADT in the New Kensington area of Philadelphia. Her work continued locally, nationally, and internationally with performances at the Painted Bride Arts Center, Movement Theater International, Conwell Theater, and Mandell Theater in Philadelphia amongst other venues, and in Germany with residencies in Frankfurt, Osnabrück, Leipzig, Berlin, Mühlheim, Dresden and Cologne.
With loss of the DanceWorkspace by an electrical fire in 1996, and the loss of 28 years of personal and professional belongings she continues ADT joins with Kumquat, a collaborative artist initiative of Group Motion, Rennie Harris Pure Movement, Scrap and Melanie Stewart Dance.
Other personal losses prompt her research and engagement with the Healing Arts and studies of Dance/Movement Therapy. (1999-2002) Brigitta attains an MA in Somatic Psychology/Dance/Movement Therapy at Naropa University in Boulder, CO., and is engaged with teaching, lecturing, choreographing, and performing for their dance program.
Ms. Herrmann returns to Philadelphia in December of 2002, by commission of the Philadelphia Dance Collection. In pursued of documenting their Mary Wigman linage and artistic work, she reconnects with former partner Hellmut Gottschild through interviews and reflection of their shared past; their history as students of Mary Wigman, and as collaborators of Motion Berlin and of Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater. An autobiographical solo work, entitled Wandering Mind & Matter invites reflection on past and present events, and is performed and documented in May 2003 at Conwell Theater for the Philadelphia Dance Archive. Also during the following year, which marked Group Motion’s 35th anniversary, Brigitta resumes artistic collaboration with Manfred Fischbeck in re-staging a work from 1973; “Beyond The Eastern Standard Time”.
2003 – present, in addition to creating and performing solo & company works of her own, as a senior dance artist Brigitta is sought of for her excellence in performance, and as a guest performer she participates with choreographers, Jerome Bell, “The Show Must Go ON”; Jeanne Ruddy, “Out of the Mist:Above the Real; Susanne Linke, “Quasi Normal”; Nicolo Fonte, (world Premiere Evening-Length Ballet) “Beautiful Decay” for BalletX.
Herrmann’s received awards include, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Dance Advance, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, and commissions, including WHYY Channel 12, Spot Light Series, the Philadelphia College for the Performing Arts for CONCORD dance company; and the Philadelphia Dance Collection for The Art of Creating Primary Resources in Dance.
Choreographer, composer, director and teacher, Manfred Fischbeck, was born in Tanzania, Africa, and spent his formative years at the end of World War II and the period after the War in Stendal, East Germany. He began his musical studies at an early age with practice on piano and violin and choir singing. At age 14 he left East Germany and went to West Berlin to join a boarding home for East German refugees. Upon completion of high school, he attended the Freie Universitaet in West Berlin with studies in theater, philosophy, literature and poetry.
From 1961-65, Manfred was co-director and actor with KARUSSELL, a theater company at the university. Subsequently he served under the artistic direction of Ruediger Tuchel as co-artistic director and as leading actor with PROVISORISCHES THEATER, where he was instrumental in lifting the boycott on the works of Bertold Brecht through the premiere of “Im Dickicht der Staedte”, the first Brecht play since the end of the War in West Berlin. In 1966 he held a leading role in “Mord and Totschlag”, a major motion picture directed by Volker Schloendorff.
As his interests expanded to include dance, Manfred studied with Brigitta Herrmann and Hellmut Gottschild of Gruppe Motion Berlin, a Modern Dance Company, which evolved from the Mary Wigman School, Berlin. In 1967 he joined forces with Gruppe Motion as a dramaturge to create their first Multi Media Dance Theater work “Count Down for Orpheus”. In 1968 under the co-direction of Herrmann, Gottschild and Fischbeck, the company relocated to Philadelphia, changed its name to Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater and established a new company, theater and workshop. The company received instant recognition at such places as the Judson Church in New York and the Jacobs Pillow Festival in Massachusetts and was invited to tour with the NEA Touring Program. In 1971 Gottschild left the company and founded Zero Moving Dance Company. In 1972 Herrmann and Fischbeck created the Group Motion Workshop as an outgrowth of their work with the company. The acclaimed workshop has toured nationally and abroad, traveling through Germany, France, Argentina, Japan, Barbados and Bermuda. While Brigitta Herrmann continued to co-direct the Group Motion Workshop, she founded Ausdruckstanz Dance Theater in 1989, leaving Manfred Fischbeck temporarily as the sole artistic/executive director of Group Motion Multi Media Dance Theater while continuing her role as co-director of the Group Motion Workshop.
Choreographing, directing, performing and touring extensively with the the Group Motion Company since 1989, Manfred has received various grants and fellowships, among them the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts PRDI and Dance Advance programs and other foundations.
Manfred has been an Artist in Residence at the Ballet Contemporaneo in San Martin, Buenos Aires, and has conducted residencies in Tokyo; Taipei, Taiwan; and Germany during the summers of 1993 – 2000 and more recently in 2009 at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. Under Manfred’s artistic direction, Group Motion developed a body of over 40 dance theater works and a long history of collaboration and creation of new work with prominent national and international artists and arts organizations. The list includes visual artists Peter Rose, film (Philadelphia), Harold Jacobs, sculpture (France), Joseph Wong, architecture (China) and composers Phil Kline (New York), Andrea Clearfield (Philadelphia), Tim Motzer (Philadelphia) and Peter Price (Philadelphia) – to name a few, and leading dance artists and choreographers, including Brigitta Herrmann (Philadelphia), Carol Brown (London), Kenshi Nohmi and Akiko Kitamura (Japan), Oscar Araiz (Argentina), Masaki Iwana (Paris / Tokyo), Wally Cardona (New York) and Philadelphia locals Rennie Harris, Kun Yang Lin and Silvana Cardell. Recent collaborations include composer Andrea Clearfield, artist Maureen Drdak and Network for New Music (one of Philadelphia’s leading contemporary music ensembles) in the creation and performance of “Lung-Ta – the Windhorse,” composer Andrea Clearfield and Visual Artist / Writer Quintan Ana Wikswo in the creation and performance of “Schwarzer Tod and the Useless Eaters” and “Califia and the Trespassers,” and choreographer Susan Rethorst in the creation of “Then,” a new multi-media dance theater work.
Manfred’s creative process has long incorporated technology and other artistic media as resources for imaginative material. He has integrated choreographic software with film and live dance and has utilized various interactive technologies (the Soundbeam – an interactive device translating movement into sound, compositional computer software programs, video) in projects and performances, providing new possibilities for both composition and choreography. Manfred’s poetry has been performed at the Live Arts/Fringe Festival and his musical compositions have been integrated into a wide variety of contexts from classes to workshops to performances and collaborations with other musicians, composers, dance artists and companies.
In addition to creating multi-media dance theater works and leading workshops at Group Motion, Manfred has been an integral part of the city’s educational community. From 1983 to the present he has been on the faculty of the University of the Arts as Adjunct Associate Professor; and from 1982 to the present he has lectured regularly as part of the Theater Arts Department of the University of Pennsylvania, and in 2011 became lecturer at Georgian Court University. As a representative of the dance community, Manfred has served on the Dance Panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts from 1976-79, and on the Board of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance from 1972 and on the Board of the Philadelphia Dance Alliance from 1986-89. In 1996, Manfred initiated the creation of the Kumquat Dance Center, a collective of diverse professional dance companies and artists who shared studio, theater and office space at the Community Education Center, 3500 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104 until 2004 after which Group Motion remained as the only company in residence at the CEC.