Anna Greta Ståhle is primarily known for her contributions as a dance critic for Dagens Nyheter. Her genuine interest in the field and her substantial knowledge provided her readers with an unusual insight into the various genres within the art of dance through the articles, interviews, and reviews she produced.
Anna Greta Ståhle was born in 1913. She spent her entire life living in Lidingö as part of a family in which knowledge, languages, art, and culture were the norm. Her father, Evert Norlin, was the head of Statens provningsanstalt (Technical research institute of Sweden), within the chemical-technical section. Her mother, Karin Norlin, was a teacher at Tysta skolan, which was a school for deaf mutes. Anna Greta Ståhle’s husband Carl-Ivar Ståhle was a professor of Nordic languages and a member of the Swedish Academy. They had three children, Barbro, Anna Karin, and Lars.
After gaining her school-leaving certificate and studying at Stockholms högskola (college) Anna Greta Ståhle began to work for Dagens Nyheter in 1942. She exchanged many letters and had many telephone conversations with authors such as Harry Martinson and Hans Ruin who both supplied the newspaper with Sunday commentaries. For just over ten years, from 1954–1966, Anna Greta Ståhle edited the theatre-, music-, and film pages. She carried on providing dance reviews for yet another decade. Anna Greta Ståhle followed the changes the Swedish dance world underwent. She herself had danced with Lalla Cassel and had taken private lessons with Nina Koslovski, partly in an effort to learn the terminology used within ballet.
Anna Greta Ståhle was also protective of the new generation of dancers. She was not afraid to write about the developments within the avant-garde. Rather than taking a stand either for or against the traditional form of the art she presented young dance performers who were just starting out in their careers and highlighted the specifics of something that was new, thereby disseminating knowledge about the field. Her focus lay in a desire to understand the artistry.
Anna Greta Ståhle’s interest in stage work didn’t stop at merely Swedish and European developments. She travelled to Asia, including several trips to Japan, in order to learn about different traditions of stage work. Her 1976 book, Klassisk japansk teater, still forms part of the essential literature for those who want to deepen their knowledge of Japanese stage work, its history, its styles, and its different forms of expression.
The book she co-wrote with Mary Skeaping, entitled Balett på Stockholmsoperan was published in 1979. Mary Skeaping had been head of ballet at Kungliga Teatern (the royal theatre) from 1953 to 1962 and she provided a history of ballet in Stockholm from the Gustavian era until the early 1900s whilst Anna Greta Ståhle covered the period from 1920 onwards, as well as writing about Svenska baletten (Swedish ballet) company despite it being separate from Kungliga Teatern.
Anna Greta Ståhle also took great interest in other forms of artistic expression. Her engagement in the circus world was equal to her interest in marionettes. She was on the board of Marionetteteatern and was an important force in setting up Akademien för Cirkuskonstens Bevarande i Sverige (Cirkusakademien; The academy for the retention of the circus arts in Sweden, also known as the Circus academy) in 1973. She then served as the academy director from 1976–1978 and again from 1984–1991.
Anna Greta Ståhle was a much talked-about generous, encouraging, and attentive person who continued to lecture even after she had retired, both at Stockholm university and at Danshögskolan (the dance college, now known as Dans och Cirkushögskolan). She contributed to several encyclopaedias, including Nationalencyklopedin, Myggans nöjeslexikon, and International Encyclopedia of Dance. She was awarded the Carina Ari medal in 1976.
Anna Greta Ståhle died in 2006. She is buried at Lidingö cemetery.