Nolde was profoundly stirred by the experience of the dance in which he looked for rapt and total surrender to all the most powerfull bodily expressions. From the Fantasy series of prints made in 1905 to the Unpainted Pictures of 1938-45, he explored the subject of the dance and dancers in his paintings, graphic work, ceramics and textiles.
'His interest in experimental instinctive movement was greatly influenced by his friendship with several of the avant-garde dancers performing in Germany at the time. But Nolde's fascination with dance was not restricted to the performance he observed on his travels; as with many of the other themes explored in his work, he pushed himself to the imaginative limits of the subject by creating fantastical images.'(Felicity Lunn, Emil Nolde, London, 1995-6, p. 90)
'In Death as a Dancer of 1918, Nolde depicts death in the form of a young woman, her frenzied dancing observed by a circle of men, their distorted features transforming them from humans into grotesques figments of the artist's imagination.' (Peter Vergo and Felicity Lunn, ibid, p. 36)