Netta Yerushalmy

Artist Talk: Netta Yerushalmy Sharing Paramodernities #6 - The Choreography of Rehabilitation: Disability and Race in Balanchine’s Agon

Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 4:45pm
Cross Street Dance Studio, 160 Cross Street, Middletown


Choreographer Netta Yerushalmy partners with three scholars who work within Disability Studies: NYU Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication Mara Mills; UC Berkeley Senior Lecturer Georgina Kleege (via Skype); and Weslyean University Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Christina Crosby.

Together, the four will discuss a disability- and race-themed segment (#6) of Yerushalmy’s multi-part work, Paramodernities, #1 through #4 of which will have their Connecticut premiere on Friday, October 4, 2019 at 7:30pm in the CFA Theater. Paramodernities #1 through #4 deconstruct landmark dances by Vaslav Nijinsky, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, and Alvin Ailey. 

Paramodernities #6 will not be performed on October 4, but will be screened as part of this artist talk on September 26, with conversation following around its themes.

As a whole, Paramodernities deconstructs six iconic dance works created between 1913 and 1990 and pairs them with minimalist choreographic reconstructions, accompanied by multi-disciplinary scholars reading their written responses to the original works. In Paramodernities #6, Yerushalmy, Mills and Kleege respond to George Balanchine’s 1957 ballet, Agon. After Balanchine's wife—ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq—contracted polio, Balanchine studied the physical therapy exercises developed at Warm Springs Polio Rehabilitation Center, a whites-only institution founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and traces of these exercises are discernible in his choreography. Agon also reflects a time of changing race relations, as Balanchine cast Arthur Mitchell, New York City Ballet’s first African-American principal dancer, in the pas de deux. Foregrounding this history invites different kinds of bodies and different modes of perception into the dance. Mills and Kleege also approach Agon via disability aesthetics, using audio description to convert gesture and image into words, both as an access tool for blind audience members and as a means of reconsidering the ballet.

Join choreographer Netta Yerushlamy for a free master class, Deconstructing Dance History — A Studio Practice, on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 11am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, located at 247 Pine Street on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. The movement workshop explores, interrogates and re-frames the Western dance canon. This workshop is appropriate for intermediate-level dancers.

For further discussion of Paramodernities please click here

Image: Haim Herron courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.