The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Announces 2019 Dance Research Fellows

New class of fellows will focus on topics celebrating the rich collections of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division for its 75th anniversary

June 27, 2019 -- The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts's Jerome Robbins Dance Division has selected its new class of Dance Research Fellows. Selected from a record number of applicants from around the world, these researchers and artists will help the Dance Division celebrate its 75th anniversary by focusing on topics selected by each of the five curators who have overseen the collection during its history. A sixth collection was selected by members of the Dance Division's expert staff.

This year's fellows and the collections they'll focus on are:

The Genevieve Oswald Fellow - The Claire Holt Collection

Triwi Harjito 

The Madeleine Nichols Fellow - The AIDS Legacy Project

Jack Ferver & Jeremy Jacob

The Michelle Potter Fellow - The Khmer Dance Project

Emily Coates

Emmanuèle Phuon

The Jan Schmidt Fellow - The Dance Theatre Workshop Collection

Tara Aisha Willis

The Dance Curator Fellow - The Selma Jeanne Cohen Collection

Elizabeth Zimmer

The Dance Division Fellow (topic selected by the Dance Division staff) - The Dance Division Photography Files

Apollinaire Scherr

While the Fellowship usually only allows for six projects to be supported, the selection panel felt so strongly about two of the applications for the Khmer Dance Project that both were awarded a slot to create a total of seven projects being supported in this cycle.

Created in 2014 to support scholars and practitioners engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, and independent research using the Dance Division's unmatched holdings, this program awards a stipend of $7,500 and a research period from July 1 to December 31, 2019 for fellows to complete their work.

The Fellows will showcase the outcome of their research in a presentation or performance at a day-long symposium on Friday, January 24, 2020. The symposium -- which serves as the culmination of the fellowship -- is free and open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to observe as many presentations as possible throughout the day. Online reservations will be accepted beginning in late 2019.

"We received more applications than ever for this year's fellowships," said Linda Murray, curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. "An anniversary is an opportunity to reflect and reset so, in this cycle for our 75th year, we asked each of the former curators to select a topic that they believed to have historic importance. In the project proposals that we received, what emerged was how well these legacy collections resonate with issues currently being experienced by our community today. It is a humbling testament to the Division's breadth, depth, and resonance that it can continue to speak to the field so profoundly."

The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library is the largest and most comprehensive archive in the world devoted to the documentation of dance. Chronicling the art of dance in all its forms, the Division acts as much more than a library. It preserves the history of dance by gathering diverse written, visual, and aural resources, and works to ensure the art form's continuity through active documentation and educational programs.

Founded in 1944, the Dance Division is used regularly by choreographers, dancers, critics, historians, journalists, publicists, filmmakers, graphic artists, educators, students, and the general public. While the Division contains more than 44,000 books about dance, these account for only a small percentage of its vast holdings. Other resources available for study free of charge include papers and manuscript collections, moving image and audio recordings, clippings and program files, and original prints and designs.

The 2019 Dance Research Fellowships were made possible by the generosity of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Estate of Louise Guthman, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Committee for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

About the 2019 Jerome Robbins Dance Division Dance Research Fellows

Emily Coates - Dancer, Choreographer, Writer; Director of Dance Studies, Yale University

Science Dances: Emmanuéle Phuon’s "Khmeropédie III"

As part of her project examining Emmanuéle Phuon's "Khmeropédies III: Source/Primate" and the science-art collaboration she embedded within, Coates will focus her work as a Dance Research Fellow on deepening her understanding of Cambodian classical dance. In particular, she will study the development of the archetypal characters that fill the Cambodian classical dance narratives, especially the monkey character. 

Jack Ferver and Jeremy Jacob - Writer, Choreographer, and Director; Visual Artist and Filmmaker

A Generation Lost: AIDS and Dance

Ferver and Jacob will explore the AIDS Legacy Project audio oral histories, looking to find the choreographers and dancers lost to the AIDS crisis whose voices remain hidden. Through their findings, they hope to not only bring attention to these artists but to examine the links to the works they were creating to our current culture of dance. The culmination of their research, to be shared at the Symposium in January, will consist of a research paper presentation from Ferver accompanied by a video created by Jacob.

Triwi Harjito - Scholar, Dancer and Choreographer Specializing in Indonesian/Javanese Dance

Embodied and Archival Representations: The Dancing Body in Colonial Indonesia

Harjito's research as a PhD student in Culture and Performance in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA examines dance and representation, focusing on how choreography and performance serve as representations of gender, sexuality, national identity and community, and also investigating the embodied and archival representations of the Indonesian dancing body from colonial times to the present. Harjito will further explore these issues as a Dance Fellow using materials in The Claire Holt Collection, specifically the collection’s "sensitive" documentation of the Indonesian dancing body during the colonial and post-colonial periods in Indonesia through Holt’s ethnography, on film and in photographs.

Emmanuèle Phuon - Dancer and Choreographer

Contemporary re-interpretation of an episode of the Reamker

While her own work "Khmeropédies III: Source/Primate" is at the heart of Emily Coates' research, Phuon herself will use the Khmer Dance Project collection to research Sbek Thom (shadow puppet theater) and Lakhon Khaol (a classical dance, also known as "theatre of monkeys"), two theatrical traditions she's exploring for a reinterpretation of an episode of the Reamker, the Cambodian version of the Indian epic Ramayana. 

Apollinaire Scherr - Dance Critic, Financial Times; Adjunct Professor of English and Dance, FIT, Montclair State, Hunter College

Dances in Photographs: Martha Graham, Barbara Morgan, and the Modern in Modern Dance

The impetus for Scherr's research is Barbara Morgan's 1941 monograph, Martha Graham: Sixteen Dances in Photographs. This "collaboration," as Graham described it, covered only five years in her career, yet it generated a lasting Graham iconography. Scherr will consider Morgan's Graham against alternative versions that the Library's vast collection of Graham photographs of this period proposes. The goal: a prismatic view of dance modernism.

Tara Aisha Willis - Associate Curator of Performance, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Dancing Black/Dancing Blackness: Kinetic Theorizations of Race in Contemporary Choreographies

Willis will undergird her analyses of how lived experience, discourse, and lineage appear in several recent, often improvisational, performances by black dance artists with archival research on how experiments by black choreographers were presented, perceived, and framed in 1980s-90s New York City. Seeking evidence of the shifts in categorization used to define and historicize the intersection of racialized experience and ambiguous choreographic practices, Willis will attend to the sociopolitical contexts in which artists created their work to form non-linear histories. Additional curatorial research into solos by a range of artists will trace trajectories of relation and transmission from 1960-90 to current restaging practices, across lines of racial, formal, and geographic distinction.

Elizabeth Zimmer - Dance Writer

Selma Jeanne Cohen, Foremother

Zimmer's research into Selma Jeanne Cohen will retrace and analyze the personal and professional steps that made Cohen a pioneer in the field of dance history, theory, and philosophy, and re-establish her as a resource for young scholars and dance audiences.

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About The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world’s most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts — whether professional or amateur — the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs. The Library is part of The New York Public Library system, which has 92 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and is a lead provider of free education for all.