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Skirball Cultural Center

From Cabarets to Kibbutzim: Dance and Modern Jewish Communal Life

Classes | Online

Black and white photo of dancer Valeska Gert posing as a clown.

Valeska Gert dance pose as clown (1928). Photo by Suse Byk. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Explore how Jewishness (as a culture, religion, ethnicity, and nationality) has been produced, sustained, and complicated through dance and choreography.

This is a past program

This program took place on
Wednesdays, May 3–June 7, 1:00–2:30 pm (PT)

About the Class

Now online—How have Jewish dancers and choreographers used the art form to articulate collective identities? This class will look at types of social relations produced through Jewish dance since the nineteenth century. Each week, we'll focus on a distinctive dance and/or choreographer and explore how Jewishness (as a culture, a religion, an ethnicity, and a nationality) has been produced, sustained, complicated, and negotiated through dance.

Discuss a variety of dance forms such as modern and postmodern dance, burlesque, drag, folk dance, and social dance, and celebrate the significant impacts Jewish choreographers, dancers, and dances have made on modern culture.

Instructor: Jackie Davis is a PhD candidate at UCLA whose research focuses on the avant-garde German/Jewish dancer Valeska Gert (1892–1978), Gert's performance spaces in Germany and the US, and the forms of sociality (and non-sociality) she cultivated through her artistic practices.

Overall, Davis's research combines dance studies, queer theory, and German/Jewish history to advance an interdisciplinary, transnational conversation about how dance produces subversive body politics. Davis had a previous life as an experimental filmmaker, curator, and visual artist. Her work has been screened internationally and she has published several artist books. Davis holds BA degrees in dance and history as well as an MA in culture and performance.

Four adults with clipboards and pencil in a circle looking at a drawing in a gallery.

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