Rebecca RossenDancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance

Oxford University Press, 2014

by TAKIYAH AMIN on September 13, 2014

Rebecca Rossen

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How does an author craft a work that speaks across the boundaries of dance studies, Jewish studies and gender studies? What does it mean for dance to function as a site for probing complex questions of racial, ethnic and cultural identity? How do choreographers respond to the prompt, “make a Jewish dance?” What does all of this have to tell us about the ways in which Jewish identities show up onstage both historically and contemporarily? I was grateful to engage these questions with dancer, choreographer and historian, Rebecca Rossen (pronounced “Ross – in”,) author of Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance (Oxford University Press, 2014). Rebecca’s groundbreaking work probes the ways in which American Jewish choreographers use dance as a site to interrogate personal and collective identities while articulating social and political agendas and challenging stereotypes. Rossen critically engages with the work of Anna Sokolow, Pauline Koner, David Dorfman, Liz Lerman and others in examining how they use dance as a space for the creative construction, imagining and re-imagining of Jewish identities. Including over 50 photographs and a companion website with video clips, Dancing Jewish is a resource for dance educators and historians as well. Rebecca Rossen is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin. A dance historian, performance scholar, and choreographer , her research interests include modern and postmodern dance, stagings of identity in physical performance, and the relationship between research and practice. Her own choreography has been presented in venues throughout her hometown of Chicago, as well as in Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Israel.


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