Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg)

Sent M’Ahesa

“Such confusion of identity did not apply in the case of Sent M’Ahesa (Elsa von Carlberg 1893-1970), whom audiences persisted in identifying with Egyptian dances (though her dance aesthetic  included images from other ancient o exotic cultures). She performed all her dances solo. Born in Latvia, she went to Berlin in 1907 with her sister to study Egyptology but became so enchanted with ancient Egyptian art and artifacts that she decided to pursue her interest through dance rather than scholarship… Under he name of Sent M’Ahesa, she presented a program of Egyptian dances in Munich in December 1909 (Ettlinger). From then until the mid-1920s, she achieved fame for her exceptionally dramatic dances dominated by motifs from ancient Egyptian iconography. …

Her dances always functioned in relation to intricate, highly decorative costumes of her own design, so that it appeared as if she chose movements for their effect upon her costume.  In her moon goddess (or Isis) dance, she attached large, diaphanous cloth wings to her black-sleeved arms… Sent M’Ahesa often exposed her flesh below the navel, but I have yet to find a picture of her in which she exposed her hair, so keen was she on the use of wigs, helmets, caps, scarves, kerchiefs, tiaras, masks, and crowns. In her peacock dance, she attached a large fan of white feather plumes to her spine. In other dances, she draped herself with tassels, decorative aprons, double sashes, layers of jeweled necklaces, and arm, wrist, and ankle bracelets. Only in her Indian dances did she wear anything resembling pants. …

… her body was wonderfully svelte, and her face displayed a cool, chiseled beauty, I think, rather, that she sought to decontextualise female beauty and erotic feeling from archetypal images of them originating in cultures other than her own or her audience’s; she sought to dramatize a tension between a modern female body and old images of female desire and desirability. Ettlinger, in 1910, was perhaps more accurate when he remarked that

“Sent M’Ahesa’s dance has nothing to do with what one commonly understands as dance. She does not produce “beautiful,” “sensually titillating” effects. She does not represent feelings, “fear,” “horror,” “lust,” “despair,” as “lovely.” Her are requires its own style. Her movements are angular, geometrically uncircular, just as we find them in old Egyptian paintings and reliefs. Neither softness of line nor playful grace are the weapons with which she puts us under her spell. On the contrary: her body constructs hard, quite unnaturally broken lines. Arms and legs take on nearly doll-like attitudes. But precisely this deliberate limiting of gestures gives her the possibility of until now unknown, utterly minute intensities, the most exquisite of refinements of bodily expression. With a sinking of the arm of only a few millimeters, she calls forth effects which all the tricks of the ballet school cannot teach.”

Sent M’Ahesa was similar to Schrenck in one respect, even though Schrenck never performed exotic dances: both project and intensely erotic aura while moving within a very confined space. They showed persuasively that convincing signification of erotic desire or pleasure did not depend on a feeling of  freedom in space, as exemplified in the convention of ballet and modern dance, with their cliched use of runs, leaps, pirouettes, and aerial acrobatics. These dancers revealed that erotic aura intensifies in relation to an acute sense of bodily confinement, of the body imploding, turning in on itself, riddled with tensions and contradictory pressures. They adopted movements to portray the body being squeezed and twisted, drifting in to a repertoire of squirms, spasms, angular thrusts, muscular suspensions. Contortionist dancing is perhaps the most extreme expression of this aesthetic. But Sent M’Ahesa complicated the matter by doing exotic dances – that is, she confined her body within a remote cultural-historical context, as if to suggest that the ecstatic body imploded metaphorical as well as physical space.”

Karl Eric Toepfer, “Solo Dancing,” in Karl Eric Toepfer. Empire of Ecstasy: Nudity and Movement in German Body Culture, 1910-1935. University of California Press, 1997, pp. 175-179.  artblart.com

 

Atelier binder – The dancer Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg)portrait – 1919

 

Atelier binder – The dancer Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg)portrait – 1919

Atelier binder – The dancer Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg)portrait – 1919

Sent M’Ahesa by Josef Pesci published in Deutsche kunst und dekoration by Koch, Alex. (Alexander), 1860-1939

Sent M’Ahesa by Josef Pesci published in Deutsche kunst und dekoration by Koch, Alex. (Alexander), 1860-1939

Hanns Holdt- Elsa Carlsberg aka Sent M´ahesa in The Artistic Dance Our Time by Hermann Aubel and Marianne Aubel, 1928 .

Hugo Erfurt, Dresden. La danza artística de nuestro tiempo 1928(Foto. Theatermuseum Düsseldorf)

Hugo Erfurt, Dresden. La danza artística de nuestro tiempo 1928

Hugo Erfurt, Dresden. La danza artística de nuestro tiempo 1928

Franz Löwy – Elsa von Carlberg aka Sent M´ahesa ( from Historical Magazine- Photos ) , 1910

Hanns Holdt- Elsa von Carlberg aka Sent M´ahesa München in The Artistic Dance Our Time by Hermann Aubel and Marianne Aubel, 1928

Hanns Holdt- Elsa von Carlberg aka Sent M´ahesa München in The Artistic Dance Our Time by Hermann Aubel and Marianne Aubel, 1928

Else von Carlberg (lavanimi Sent Mahesa)1923 aire.opera.ee

Hannes Holdt -Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg) – Dancer, Sweden – portrait – 1918

Hannes Holdt -Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg) – Dancer, Sweden – portrait – 1917, published in 1920

Hanns Holdt -Sent M’Ahesa 1928

Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg) by Hanns Holdt, Berlin, 1928

Franz Löwy, Sent M’Ahesa (Elsa von Carlberg) in peacock costume , c 1928 from The artistic dance of our time by H. and M Aubel. Leipzig K. R. Langewiesche, 1928

 

sent-mahesa-dancer-sweden-portrait-1909

Hanns Holdt- Elsa von Carlberg aka Sent M´ahesa München in The Artistic Dance , 1920

Sent Mahesa Else von Carlberg-Hogo Erfurth, resden aus der kunstlerische tanz unserer zeit,1928

Hanns Holdt – Sent M’Ahesa 1917, From The Artistic Dance of Our Time 1928

Hanns Holdt- Elsa von Carlberg aka Sent M´ahesa München in The Artistic Dance , 1917 HALFTONE Photograph

Hanns Holdt- Elsa von Carlberg aka Sent M´ahesa München in The Artistic Dance , 1917 HALFTONE Photograph From The Artistic Dance of Our Time 1928

Sent M’ahesa (Else von Carlberg) – Dancer, Sweden – portrait – 1913

Madame d’Ora (Arthur Benda) -Sent M’Ahesa, nd

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