Jews and Jewishness in the Dance World

Award Year: 
Project Director(s): 

Naomi Jackson, Associate Professor, School of Film, Dance and Theatre

Elizabeth Lerman, Institute Professor, School of Film, Dance and Theater

This research project addresses the explicit and implicit impact of Jewish creative artists, thinkers, and organizers on the evolution of dance in education, the concert dance realm, commercial dance world and other specific contexts. It also considers how concerns central to “the Jewish experience,” whether related to identity, history, religious practice, Israel, everyday life and/or conflict and war, have influenced developments in the dance field. The historical reach of this impact can be traced in the West at least to the Renaissance period, with an especially profound influence on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, particularly in North America, Europe and Israel. Of particular interest is illustrating the profound ways in which a Jewish presence has challenged traditional perspectives and offered new ways of conceiving dance in order to expand aesthetic limits, reveal inequity, and build communities in line with the notion of Tikkun Olam – a Jewish concept meaning repair of the world.


David Dorfman in Dayenu, 1992

Photo: Beatriz Schiller