While Jews are commonly referred to as the "people of the book," American Jewish choreographers have consistently turned to dance as a means to articulate personal and collective identities; tangle with stereotypes; advance social and political agendas; and imagine new possibilities for themselves as individuals, artists, and Jews. Dancing Jewish delineates this rich history, demonstrating that Jewish choreographers have not only been vital contributors to American modern and postmodern dance, but that they have also played a critical and unacknowledged role in the history of Jews in the United States. By examining the role dance has played in the struggle between Jewish identification and integration into American life, the book moves across disciplinary boundaries to show how cultural identity, nationality, ethnicity, and gender are formed and performed through the body and its motions. A dancer and choreographer, as well as an historian, Rebecca Rossen offers evocative analyses of dances while asserting the importance of embodied methodologies to academic research.
Featuring over fifty images, a companion website, and key works from 1930 to 2005 by a wide range of artists-including David Dorfman, Dan Froot, David Gordon, Hadassah, Margaret Jenkins, Pauline Koner, Dvora Lapson, Liz Lerman, Sophie Maslow, Anna Sokolow, and Benjamin Zemach-Dancing Jewish offers a comprehensive framework for interpreting performance and establishes dance as a crucial site in which American Jews have grappled with cultural belonging, personal and collective histories, and the values that bind and pull them apart.