Seminars

  • Founded
    2011
  • Seminar Number
    749

Studies in Dance takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach to dance scholarship while serving as an ongoing forum for discussion by established and younger scholars.  The Seminar embraces all forms of dance scholarship, regardless of discipline, research area, and methodology, and has the long-term goal of encouraging academic publication and new research.  The members include Barnard College and Columbia University faculty as well as independent scholars and faculty from other New York institutions, although speakers may come from outside the metropolitan area.


Chair
Professor Lynn Garafola
lg97@columbia.edu

Rapporteurs
Emily Hawk
eah2201@columbia.edu

Meeting Schedule

09/27/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
"Classical Ballet": Where Did It Come From?
Daria Khitrova, Harvard University
Abstract

Abstract

In this presentation, I explore the history of the notion of "classical ballet" and what it meant in different time periods. As my research shows, the emergence of the notion of "Russian Ballet" in the early twentieth century greatly contributed to the idea of "classical ballet" as we use the term today. Additionally, "classical ballet" became intertwined, in a complex way, with the notion of "classical dance," as it was theorized by modernist critics such as Akim Volynsky and André Levinson.





10/25/2021 Online Meeting
2:00 PM
Dance in Ghettos and Camps. The Holocaust as a History of Gestures
Laure Guilbert, Independent Scholar
Abstract

Abstract

My current project explores an aspect of the Shoah overlooked in the contemporary history of ghettos and concentration camps: the role of dance movement in the genocidal strategies of the Nazi perpetrators as well as in the deportees’ struggle for survival. Based on a unique collection of archives that bring to light forgotten personalities, this research examines the Holocaust through the lens of the body in motion. The latter is understood in its various experiences of choreographed gestures, rhythmic language, and motion expressivity that unfolded in the closed spaces of camp society. What role did these practices play in defining violence or refuge? How did they relate to wider sociocultural landscapes? A contribution to the sociocultural history of dance, this study completes a history of bodies in contexts of extreme violence, and the history of Holocaust art. Its outcome will also aim to enrich a reflection on resilience in our societies.





01/31/2022 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
Forgetting While Forgotten: Romanian Modern Dance During the Complicated Twentieth Century
Camelia Lenart, SUNY Albany
Abstract

Abstract

My presentation focuses on Romanian modern dance, a story of resistance and survival during two Romanian dictatorships: the pro-Nazi one (1940–44) and the Communist one (1944–89). I explore the way in which totalitarian regimes objectified, used, and misused the art form and the dancers’ bodies and minds for their political agendas. My work reflects upon the power of dance and dancers to survive political and social trauma, and the impact of this complex process on the continuity and development of modern dance in Romania and Eastern Europe.





02/28/2022 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
Movement Research and Downtown Dance in the 1990s: Process Over Product
Buck Wanner, Cooper Union
Abstract

Abstract

This presentation will look at downtown dance in the 1990s through the lens of the dance-service organization Movement Research, asking how institutions contributed to shaping dance in this period. Drawing from extensive research in the organization's institutional archives, this presentation will trace the history of Movement Research from its founding in 1978 through the establishment of its most influential programs in the 1990s. In examining the organization, this presentation looks at one of the central threads of downtown dance in the 1990s: the emphasis on "process." Movement Research's slogan was in fact "process over product," and its programs — classes, residencies, work-in-progress showings, panel discussions, written publications — would prove vital to shaping the attitudes and practices of downtown dancers throughout the period.





03/28/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
The Blackness of Medieval Dance
Kathryn Dickason, New York University
Abstract

Abstract

In the High Middle Ages, ecclesiastical authors demonized the presence of blackness in dance. In these texts, blackness symbolized depravity, idolatry, and the devil. However, the encounter between European Christians and Black dancers shifted with the rise of the Crusades and long- distance travel in the Late Middle Ages. In crusader chronicles and travel literature, travelers developed an appreciation for foreign (non-European) dance, yet these encounters are colored by the colonization and racial violence from which they emerge. For a moment in the Late Middle Ages, Europe gestured toward a sanctification of Black dance with the multicultural court of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the cult of the Black Madonna. In conclusion, I show how contemporary African pilgrims re-authenticate Black sanctity in Europe with music and dance. The journey of medieval dance from derision to a possible sanctification may inform our contemporary moment as we wrestle with the legacy of racism and biopolitics.





04/25/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
Choreographing Careers: It's Work Pirouetting Perfectly
Ruth Horowitz, New York University
Abstract

Abstract

The tentative book title is Choreographing Careers: It's Work Pirouetting Perfectly. It examines the development of dance careers, starting with experiences in local schools through decisions taken when the dancer's career as a performer is over. The book is based on eighty-seven in-depth interviews with dancers and former performers both in companies and the freelance or portfolio market. The talk will focus on chapter 7, "Creating New Careers: Activating Particular Experiences." It examines the choices that performers make to emphasize the body, art, or analytical skills and argues that transitions should neither be seen as "ruptures" or "boundaryless" but as a process of struggle to gain new skills and distancing the self from one's "performing self" while developing new identities.