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The Speaking of Dancing Project

The Speaking of Dancing project is a special interview project within the Jerome Robbins Dance Division’s ongoing Oral History Project.  The project was made possible by a generous gift from Anne H. Bass and has resulted in important new interviews with ten prominent figures in the field.  The interviews are unified by a thematic focus on the role of interpretation in dancing.

We developed this theme because interpretation, defined most simply as the expression through movement of choreographic ideas, offers so many avenues through which to explore the art of dance, illuminating aspects of the creative process, collaborative relationships and the transmission of choreography from creator to dancer and from dancer to audience.   The goal was to produce a series of diverse interviews that would form a constellation around a compelling idea.

As is always the case in our oral history work, the priority was also to create new primary source materials with dancers, choreographers and critics who have not previously been recorded in-depth for the Dance Division.  We turned to distinguished dance critics and historians - Deborah Jowitt, Nancy Reynolds, Brian Seibert, Michelle Potter, and Rose Anne Thom - to conduct the interviews and to finely tune the theme as would be most appropriate to each of the participants.

Five of the interviews were recorded on video, and the remaining five were recorded on audio.   While the Oral History Project traditionally records audio interviews, given the thematic focus on interpretation, we offered subjects the option to record their interviews on video as well and in these cases were thus able to capture the physical expressiveness of the interviewees as they spoke about the art of dance.

We have begun to post excerpts from these interviews on our new Dance Oral History Channel.  You can also read more about Speaking of Dancing in a blog post from the project coordinator.

The participants’ names below link to the catalog record and content summary of the interview.

Karole Armitage
Karin von Aroldingen
Carolyn Brown
Holly Hynes
Julie Kent
Alastair Macaulay
Kevin McKenzie
Lupe Serrano
Ethan Stiefel