Dance teacher Gisa Taglicht came to New Zealand from Vienna in 1939. A member of a prosperous, well-respected Viennese Jewish business family, she became interested in dance in 1911, when she joined gymnastic club run by her future husband Adolf Taglicht, also from a notable Jewish family. Forced to flee Europe, she settled in Wellington in 1940 and, employed by the YWCA, taught movement and rhythmical gymnastics. Her belief that everyone can move gracefully if only they’re shown how, and that this grace should be part of everyday life, influenced practice and teaching in a number of areas: Philip Smithells, newly appointed superintendent of physical education at the Department of Education incorporated her principles into physical education teachers’ training; when the Parents' Centres were established in the early 1950s, she taught relaxation techniques in childbirth; from 1955 she taught at the country’s drama schools (including teaching the New Zealand Opera Company cast). Taglicht returned to Austria permanently in 1964, settling in Salzburg.
© 2016 The New Zealand Portrait Gallery Trust