Who was Steffi Nossen?
Steffi Nossen, a passionate pioneer, paves the way for the future of modern dance.
A native of Berlin, Steffi Nossen was born in 1905 and began ballet at age three. Influenced by modern dance pioneers such as Mary Wigman and Rudolph von Laban, she eagerly embraced the new dance form. Steffi’s passion for dance and movement education led her to establish a college to train dance instructors. The school became officially recognized and certified, awarding diplomas to teach the STEFFI NOSSEN METHOD.
In 1935, Steffi came to the United States and settled in Larchmont, New York. She established SNSD two years later, built upon her conviction that the experience of dance should be a part of every person’s life. Steffi was closely associated with the great pioneers of American modern dance such as Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis and Alvin Ailey. Jess Meeker, a composer and accompanist for Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers, was the school’s Music Director. Mark Morris set a piece for the Steffi Nossen Dance Company and Norman Walker taught Master Classes.
Steffi Nossen has made significant contributions to the rich history of American modern dance and her legacy continues to positively influence the art form. Her carefully developed curriculum has informed the creative and artistic development of countless dancers over the generations, many of which have gone on to successful careers in dance. More than 30 years after Steffi’s death, the school continues to carry on her educational vision, unique teaching method and love for dance.
“Red, gold and white: colors I associate with Steffi. Her red flair coat and lipstick, gold
bracelets and her white Cadillac. She seemed very tall to a little six-year-old, especially
when dressed in her full-length black evening gown on recital night. For the next twelve
years, I benefitted from her passion, elegance, boldness, creativity and business savvy.
She formed and nurtured friendships with the best in the professional dance world and
brought them into to our lives. We performed all over Westchester County, New York
City and Connecticut. She provided the widest, richest dance experience possible. I’m
indebted to Steffi for nurturing my life-long passion for dance.”
– Barbara “Furth” Kline; Dancer, Educator, Presenter, ’58 Graduate
“My name is Norman Walker and I am the first teacher from a different technique that
Steffi invited to teach at her school. I was the Master Class Tutor from 1963 – 1965, and
again in 1971 – 1972. This all took place at her School in Westchester that the old-
timers will fondly remember. My introduction to Steffi was through her Music Director,
Jess Meeker, who was also Music Director at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival where I had
met him while performing there with my company. Steffi was a pioneer in those days.
The discipline she instilled was remarkable was not only apparent in the studio but in
the lives of those many young women who were lucky enough to study with her.”
– Norman Walker; Dancer, Choreographer, Educator ’63-’72