n°29 — Girls, the Troopers of Dance. Aesthetization of Politics and Manipulation of Entertainment. Author: Alexandra Midal
The British origins of synchronized dancing—invented in 1880 by John Tiller in a cotton mill—were quickly forgotten in Berlin, where periodicals established themselves as the expression of standardization and American capitalism. The famous Tiller Girls had become the modern figure of the “New Woman”, performing in shows attracting more than four million spectators each year. A seduced Hitler asked for his own troupe: the Hiller Girls. Face to face, both periodicals look like strictly indistinguishable replicas, apart from their opposite messages.
Synchronized dancing revealed the democratic and fascist forms given to the political discourse of the Weimar Republic when the NSDAP seized power. Between the power of forms and forms of power, amid the destruction of cities, decrees banishing the use of Fraktur, and the destruction of degenerate art, those dance shows, undoubtedly because of their popularity, showed that National Socialism was using insidious and invisible strategies to empty forms of their content only to maintain their appearance intact, thus revealing a shadow practice that, in the end, turned out to be just as barbaric as world-wide destruction or the burning of books.