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Stella Mann

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
1 May 1946
Interview number:

Interview Summary:

Stella Mann was born to a conventional middle-class, secular Jewish family in Vienna. Her father was a lawyer for the Singer Sewing Machine Co. She had an early fascination with modern dance and achieved striking success as dancer aged 16/7. She started her own dance school and had many public appearances, achieving a degree of celebrity. She escaped to Yugoslavia in the summer of 1938, then went to Belgium to work as dancer and dance teacher until forced to go into hiding in 1942. She was arrested by Belgian authorities in 1940, but was released and later saved from the Gestapo by a Belgian friend. Her parents were deported and shot on the way to Minsk. She met a British soldier shortly after the liberation of Brussels and married him in 1946. They settled in London where she established the Stella Mann Dance School in Finchley Road, pioneering teaching of modern dance. The school proved very successful, her former pupils spread across the world. She lived in Mallorca for some years after retirement, then returned to London.

I’m British, but you see, when I go somewhere and the people don’t know me [they say]: ‘How do you do’? The next question, because of my accent, is always: ‘Where do you come from’? Well, I get very cynical because I say: ‘It took you five minutes. When I came to England, it only took half a minute before they asked me where I came from’. So! When you learn [English] as a child, that’s okay. But when you learn it at 34, you can’t ever get rid of the accent


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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SM: An end of term photograph of the Stella Mann School of Dancing. London, 1979