Dancer in the Light is the first biography of Gerda Geddes, and is the official one, written with the support of her family and with free access to her personal papers and photographs.
As the following extracts from the book’s Prologue show, the richness of her life presented challenges for her biographer, Frank Woods
“Gerda ‘Pytt’ Geddes was a spirited and independent minded woman who led a long, full and intriguing life. When she and I agreed her story should be recorded, I envisioned a conventional biography that would follow an ordered timeline from her birth in 1917: instead it is in three separate parts, each of which, for different reasons, begins in her childhood. And I assumed that I would systematically garner the evidence from Gerda, her family, her friends and associates, from every source I could find, and weave from it a design that would illuminate the events and pattern of her life: instead there are sections where the words are exclusively hers and it reads more like autobiography. What follows goes some way towards explaining why.”
“She enjoyed telling stories and as I got to know her I began to hear about her childhood as the daughter of a prominent businessman and politician, amusing tales involving the Norwegian Royal Family, her explorations of avant-garde dance and Reichian psychoanalysis in Oslo, her wartime escape from the Gestapo, her life in the Far East, and, more than anything, her training in tai chi and the insights this had brought her. She told me of her memoir A Norwegian Childhood but she saw this as a private record for her grandchildren and did not give me a copy until we began working on her biography. That was when I began to uncover a story that is more complex than I anticipated when I set out to record the life of the woman known mainly as a tai chi pioneer.”
"As I listened to the unfolding chronicle of her long life, I began to appreciate its nuances, themes and intricacies. There was a physical odyssey involving Britain, the U.S.A., war-torn Norway, Sweden, revolutionary China, Hong Kong and Britain again. Then there was the intense inner journeying as she strove to make sense of her unique human life. It became clear that a chronological narrative could not do justice to her almost ninety years of inner and outer exploration and that a more thematic design would be required. And I found it in her book Looking for the Golden Needle which in hindsight seems obvious, since it outlines her belief that tai chi contains a blueprint of human development, a birth-to-death journey in three phases. That is why this book is in three parts: Opening; Inner and Outer Journeys: and Transformation."
“Occasional short chapters called The Biographer’s Thread give the flavour of the relationship between Gerda and me as we worked on the story of her life.”top