Leni Riefenstahl - an Overview

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Leni Riefenstahl was one of the most famous individuals from the Third Reich. Her work as a film director brought her both fame and condemnation, as many questioned whether she was simply a female pioneer far before the time, or a contributor to the Nazi War Machine. Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl was born on the 22nd of August 1902, to Alfred and Bertha Riefenstahl. As her father was an owner of relatively successful ventilation company, Leni was able to grow up sheltered and carefree, being well provided for. Leni loved gymnastics, dancing and theatre. Her mother was supportive of Leni in this, but her father wasn’t. He considered dancing, performing and acting unsuitable for Leni. When she was 16 she secretly enrolled herself in the Grimm-Reiter Dance School in Berlin. However, she was unable to prevent her father discovering this, and he subsequently sent her to Boarding School, where he gave strict instructions to the headmistress to dissuade Leni from a dancing or acting career. On the completion of her education, she returned home to work as a secretary for her father. In return for this, she was allowed to take dancing lessons. She enrolled in the Jutta Klamt School where she learnt expressionist dance, in which she excelled. While training there, she went away for further dance lessons at Lake Constance. During this time, the inflation crisis hit Germany, making all of Leni’s payments worthless. However, the dance professor and his wife allowed her to continue training without payments. It was in October 1923 that Leni performed her first solo dance recital, but it was her second performance in Berlin that brought her to the attention of Max Reinhardt, a great theatrical director. Soon after signing a contract with Reinhardt and performing in his theatres, Leni began touring Europe as a solo dance act. However, her career was plagued by a number of

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