Sex and the Cabaret: Dada’s Dancers


  • Ruth Hemus Royal Holloway University of London



Dada, Cabaret,


The photograph of Hugo Ball, dressed in cardboard costume and conical hat, reciting the sound poem Karawane at a Cabaret Voltaire soirée, before being carried off stage in quasi-religious paroxysm, has achieved iconic status in the history of Dada. It is a-if not the-quintessential image of Zurich Dada. Ball's image, reproduced countless times, embodies and mythologizes the Dada cabaret and its innovation of sound poetry. It is scarcely surprising that the photograph is treasured, granting as it does a glimpse into Dada performances that have become infamous but remain irretrievable.

Author Biography

Ruth Hemus, Royal Holloway University of London

Ruth Hemus is an associate lecturer in French at Royal Holloway, University of London, and The Open University in London, and a freelance translator. She completed her PhD at The University of Edinburgh and is preparing a monograph on Dada's women. She is co-author of a project-driven bibliographic database on avant-garde and neo-avant-garde arts.




How to Cite

Hemus, Ruth. 2007. “Sex and the Cabaret: Dada’s Dancers”. Nordlit, no. 21 (May):91-101.