The Jerome Robbins Dance Division Celebrates and Highlights the Work of Six Dance Research Fellows

Monday, January 31, 2022

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center presents the 2022 Dance Division symposium, a virtual day-long exploration of dance and democracy. The Dance Research Fellows will present their scholarship and work drawn from research in the collections housed at the Library. The fellowship is designed to provide space and resources for scholarship within the field of dance. Our sixth cohort of fellows have all centered their research around the theme of dance and democracy.

Fellows Tommie-Waheed Evans, Petra Kuppers, zavé martohardjono, Ariel Nereson, Jason Samuels Smith, and Huiwang Zhang will present the research they have conducted through the six-month program. Topics range from the systematic erasures of specific communities within the dance field to the parallels that can be found in how dance artists have expressed the trauma of the AIDS epidemic and the Covid-19 pandemic respectively. The projects demonstrate the power and flexibility of dance to tackle difficult issues our society faces today.

“Dance, a discipline of embodiment and kinetic imagination, is a unique site in which to explore ideas of civic, social and political democracy,” said Linda Murray, Curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. “We have been honored to hold space for research, reflection, and creation for this class of fellows over the last six months and I look forward to their presentations.” 

The symposium is an important event in the Dance Division’s annual calendar and serves as an opportunity to gather the various dance communities together. Last year, due to the pandemic, the symposium was presented in virtual form which extended the international reach of the program. While the symposium was originally planned to take place as a hybrid event this year, due to Omicron the event will be virtual once again.

The brochure will be available on our Dance Research Fellowship website, and information about the fellows and their work below.

Huiwang Zhang
Towards a Democratic Body: Documenting the Creative Processes with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company

Huiwang Zhang draws on Bill T. Jones’ and Arnie Zane’s collaborative dance making in the ’70s and ’80s, to consider how a movement vocabulary is built through an active doing and thinking process to create a democratic body. Zhang uses choreography to give voice to carefully structuring an alternative history from the personal and private stories of the individual. 

zavé martohardjono

zavé martohardjono will research documentation of folk and contemporary Southeast Asian, Iranian and First Nations dance-theater and ritual dance that tells stories of community self-preservation in the midst of genocide. martohardjono is a queer, trans, Indonesian-American artist who uses de-colonial and anti-assimilationist dance, ritual, and multimedia practices to make work that contends with the political histories our bodies carry.

Petra Kuppers
Crip/Mad Dramaturgies 

Petra Kuppers’ research seeks to guide future researchers to new ways of approaching dance and disability, by working directly with disabled (crip) artists and (mad) artists, or people who identify with and reclaim these labels. Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a wheelchair dancer, and a community performance artist who creates participatory community performance environments.

Jason Samuels Smith
Digging Deeper

Jason Samuels Smith’s challenges the current tap canon by seeking alternate resources to surface an unwritten history in tap. Samuels Smith is a tap dancer, choreographer, performer who promotes respect for tap dance as an ambassador for tap around the world.

Ariel Nereson
Plague Dances: Revisiting Bill T. Jones’ AIDS Archive in the Time of COVID

In Plague Dances Ariel Nereson brings together ideas and practices from Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane’s choreography, critical race theory, and queer studies in order to make visible the ongoing contributions of queer artists of color to reimagining collectivity. Nereson, PhD, is a dance scholar, educator, and practitioner whose research considers the relation of performance histories to practices of racial violence and white supremacy in the US.

Tommie-Waheed Evans

Referencing human rights as radical performance, Tommie-Waheed Evans explores the discomfort, abandonment and strife of segregation and social injustice through the voices of African Americans and LGBTQ people in his project HOME. Evans is a queer black dance maker whose work explores blackness, spirituality, queerness and liberation.

The 2021-22 Dance Research Fellowship and symposium is supported by the Anne H. Bass Foundation, the Geraldine Stutz Trust, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, Nancy Dalva and the Committee for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division.