Actress Lisa Dwan and choreographers Jessica Lang, Pam Tanowitz and Jonah Bokaer are among the 14 artists and scholars who will serve as the 5th cohort of fellows at the Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA) at New York University, the first international institute devoted to the creation and study of ballet.

Lisa Dwan, photo by Faye Thomas

Actress Lisa Dwan and choreographers Jessica Lang, Pam Tanowitz and Jonah Bokaer are among the 14 artists and scholars who will serve as the 5th cohort of fellows at the Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA) at New York University, the first international institute devoted to the creation and study of ballet.

New fellows in residence include Dwan, Lang, Tanowiz and Bokaer as well as scholars and historians Doug Fullington, Marian Smith, Melissa Klapper, and Dana Mills; choreographers Emily Coates and John Heginbotham; writers Wendy Lesser and Debra Levine; performing artist and conflict specialist Dana Caspersen; and educator and writer Meryl Rosofsky.

The Fellows program invites scholars and artists from the field of ballet and its related arts and sciences to work at the Center on their own scholarly and artistic projects. The program provides fellows with a stipend, access to studio and office space, an apartment in some cases, and time away from daily life to focus on their specified project – a book, a ballet, a film, a digital lecture series, or other work of their imagining related in some way to ballet.

The CBA, founded by Jennifer Homans, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at NYU with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, to expand the understanding of ballet, and to bring new vitality to its history, practice, and performance in the 21st Century. Since its founding, CBA has hosted and sponsored numerous presentations and events related to the intersection of ballet practice, performance, and scholarship, in addition to supporting a wide variety of academic and artistic projects through its ongoing resident fellowship programs.

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About the 2016 fellows:

Jonah Bokaer

Schéhérazade, 2016

Jonah Bokaer is an internationally renowned choreographer and exhibiting artist whose work has been produced in 30 nations, 22 states, and 292 cities. Born to Tunisian and American parents in the United States, recent prizes include: Fellowship in Choreography of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2015); United States Artists Award in Dance (2015, Ford Fellowship); Civitella Ranieri Foundation Prize in Visual Arts (2016); Jerome Robbins Special Prize in Choreography of the Bogliasco Foundation (2011, Italy); New Choreography Prize, Société des Auteurs & Compositeurs Dramatiques (2011, Paris); Bessie Awards (2008 for Lighting; 2007 for Chez Bushwick); and support from the NEA in Choreography (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016). As a choreographer for theatre artist Robert Wilson, Bokaer has choreographed six original operas with full corps de ballets. These works include: FAUST for Teatr Wielki/ Polish National Opera; AÏDA for Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; KOOL for the Guggenheim Museum; CONFÍNES for Institut Valencià d’Art Modern; and ON THE BEACH for Baryshnikov Arts Center.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Bokaer will research the Russian origins of the Schéhérazade score by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and the Middle Eastern origins of the 1001 Arabian Nights on which the score is based, prior to the creation of his new work, Schéhérazade, 2016, commissioned by the Royal Ballet of Flanders. Confirmed collaborators include Aaron Copp (Original Lighting Design, USA), Youness Anzane (Dramaturgy, Belgium/ Morocco), and Szabi Pataki (Ballet Master, Hungary).

Dana Caspersen

Violence: Recode

Dana Caspersen, MS, MFA, is a conflict specialist, author and performing artist. Her work focuses on empowering individuals to effect change in destructive systems. In her nearly three decades as a leading artist with the Ballet Frankfurt and the Forsythe Company, and as a primary collaborator of choreographer William Forsythe, Caspersen created work ranging from inventing the world’s largest bouncy castle for Artangel in London to developing internationally acclaimed stage works such as Eidos: Telos and I Don’t Believe in Outer Space. In her recent book, Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution, she offers effective tools for turning conflict into an opportunity for positive change. Caspersen’s work using choreographic thinking to create large-scale international public dialogue projects on topics ranging from immigration to violence has brought together thousands of people from diverse communities across the world.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Caspersen will work with diverse local communities to develop a region-specific tool, Violence: Recode, to examine the ways in which individuals and communities shape and are shaped by political, economic, and cultural systems of structural violence, such as racism, poverty, and sexism.

Emily Coates


Emily Coates has performed internationally with New York City Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Twyla Tharp Dance, and Yvonne Rainer. Dance career highlights include three duets with Baryshnikov, works by Mark Morris, Karole Armitage, and Erick Hawkins, and principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, among others. Her solo and collaborative choreographic works have been presented in venues throughout the U.S. With particle physicist Sarah Demers, she is co-authoring a book on physics and dance, forthcoming from Yale University Press. She graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English and holds an MA in American Studies from Yale University. She directs the dance studies curriculum at Yale and has a secondary appointment at the Yale School of Drama.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Coates will work on an evening-length piece that will premiere at Danspace Project in 2017. The piece interweaves sources such as Balanchine’s 1928 ballet Apollo, the body of Sir Isaac Newton, Stravinsky rehearsing Apollon musagète, the discovery of the Higgs boson, and her ongoing collaboration with particle physicist Sarah Demers.

Lisa Dwan

Bodies of Becketts

Lisa Dwan is a producer, dancer, performer, and director originally from Ireland. She trained as a ballet dancer from the age of three. Following an injury she began acting professionally in her late teens. She has worked extensively in theatre, film, and television, both internationally and in her native Ireland. Most recently she has performed all over the world to great audience and critical acclaim in the “Beckett Trilogy” of Not I/ Footfalls/Rockaby. Ben Brantley of the New York Times has hailed her as “a Beckett prodigy”. Originating at the Royal Court Theatre in London, the Beckett Trilogy has sold-out venues around the world, including: the Barbican Centre, Southbank Centre, West End, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Berkley Street Theater in Toronto. Recent theatre credits also include Ramin Grayʼs production of Illusions by Ivan Viripaev at the Bush Theatre and Letters Live: My Dear Bessie with Benedict Cumberbatch (Hay Festival and West End). Dwan writes, presents, lectures, and teaches regularly on theatre, culture, and Beckett on BBC radio and television, NPR, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and for École Normale Supérieure and Princeton University.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Dwan will examine the role of dance in Beckett’s work and the conversations he was having with the human body to explore the expansive metaphysical world where our identities exist.

Doug Fullington & Marian Smith

From Manuscript to Stage: Four Nineteenth-Century Ballets

Doug Fullington is the Audience Education Manager and Assistant to Artistic Director Peter Boal at Pacific Northwest Ballet. He is responsible for developing PNB’s audience education programs and is also on the consulting staff of PNB School as dance historian. Doug is a musicologist and fluent reader of Stepanov choreographic notation. He has contributed reconstructed dances to The Daughter of Pharaoh for the Bolshoi Ballet (2001); “Le jardin animé” from Le Corsaire for PNB School (2004); Le Corsaire for the Bavarian State Ballet (2007); Giselle with Marian Smith and Peter Boal for PNB (2011), and Paquita with Alexei Ratmansky and Marian Smith for the Bavarian State Ballet (2014). In 2016, he staged a streamlined reconstruction of Le Corsaire for Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Doug’s writings on Stepanov notation have been published in Ballet Alert!, Ballet Review, Dance View, and Dancing Times. He has also presented several lecture-demonstrations about Stepanov notation for the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process series.

Marian Smith is professor of music at the University of Oregon. In fall 2004 she was Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College, and in 2007 she was given the Thomas F. Herman award for excellence in teaching. She has published two books:  Ballet in Opera in the Age of Giselle, and La Sylphide:Paris 1832 and Beyond, as well as articles in both music and dance journals. She has collaborated extensively with Doug Fullington (see above) on devising two full-length ballets: Giselle (2011) with artistic director Peter Boal at PNB in Seattle and Paquita with Alexei Ratmansky at the Bavarian State Ballet (2014).

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Fullington and Smith will work on their book that makes a case for the use of manuscripts to inform current performance of the canonic ballet repertory.

John Heginbotham

We recognized each other because we knew each other

John Heginbotham is the founder of Dance Heginbotham (DH), which had its world premiere in January of 2012 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In only four years, DH quickly established itself as one of the most adventurous and exciting new companies on the American contemporary dance scene, with presentations by and commissions from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Joyce Theater, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among others. In the spring of 2016, the company toured Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines as cultural ambassadors of the United States with DanceMotion USA, a project of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), produced by BAM.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Heginbotham will collaborate with writer and illustrator, Maira Kalman, on an evening-length work that will explore the value of time and the experience of travel.

Melissa R. Klapper
Ballet Class: An American History

Melissa R. Klapper is professor of history at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, where she teaches American, Jewish, and women's history and has served as director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program. She is the author of Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920 (NYU Press, 2005) and Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in the United States, 1880-1925 (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2007). Klapper is active in numerous scholarly societies and lectures frequently in academic and community venues. Her scholarship has won numerous awards, grants, and fellowships from the American Jewish Archives Center, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Schlesinger Library on the History of American Women at Harvard University, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, among others. Her most recent book, Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: American Jewish Women's Activism, 1890-1940 (NYU Press, 2013), won the 2013 National Jewish Book Award in Women's Studies.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Klapper will explore the twentieth-century growth of ballet class as an extracurricular activity integral to a certain kind of gender, class, and race-inflected childhood.

Jessica Lang
New Works by Jessica Lang and JLD

Jessica Lang is a choreographer and the Artistic Director of Jessica Lang Dance. Since 1999, Lang has created more than 90 works on companies worldwide, including Birmingham Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Japan, and Joffrey Ballet, among many others. American Ballet Theatre has presented her work at the Metropolitan Opera House, and she has received commissions from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum for its Works and Process series. For opera, Lang received outstanding acclaim for her directorial debut and choreography of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater at the 2013 Glimmerglass Opera Festival. Lang is a 2014 recipient of a Bessie award and a 2015 New York City Center Fellow. Lang's upcoming commissions include world premieres for Birmingham Royal Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Lang's work will also be performed by Orlando Ballet, the National Ballet of Japan, Cincinnati Ballet, and Ballet West during the 2016/17 season.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Lang will work on two new pieces for American ballet companies, as well as a new work for Jessica Lang Dance.

Wendy Lesser
Jerome Robbins

Wendy Lesser, the founding and current editor of The Threepenny Review, is the author of one novel and nine nonfiction books, most recently Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books. She has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Berlin, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Dedalus Foundation, and many other institutions; she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as well as of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Her journalistic writing about literature, dance, film, and music has appeared in a number of periodicals in America and abroad. Her upcoming book about the architect Louis Kahn is due out in 2017 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Lesser will work on a brief biography of Jerome Robbins, including his relationship to his own Jewishness.

Debra Levine

Jack Cole: A Biography

Debra Levine’s dance criticism and feature articles have been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, La Opinion, Long Beach Press Telegram, South China Morning Post and Dance Magazine. Her long essay, “Theodore Kosloff and Cecil B. DeMille Meet Madam Satan,” was published by the University of Southern California Institute of Modern Russian Culture “Experiment” No 20 (Brill: 2014), and she contributed the foreword to Gotta Dance: The Art of the Dance Movie Poster (Lagoon Press: 2014). Levine has received support from the UCLA Library Special Collections James and Sylvia Thayer Research Fellowship, the Cecil B. DeMille Foundation, and the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation. She has twice been a Fellow at NEA Arts Journalism Institutes and was twice in residence at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She is editor/publisher of arts•meme, the fine-arts blog she founded in 2008.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Levine will continue work on a biography of jazz choreographer Jack Cole.


Dana Mills
Ballet on the Margins: Ballet in Fragile States

Dana Mills wrote her DPhil thesis on the relationship between dance and politics at Oxford, where she teaches political theory and feminist political theory. Her first book, Dance and Politics: Moving beyond Boundaries, is out in November 2016 with Manchester University Press. She has held research fellowships from Northwestern Classics Faculty and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. She will be Visiting Scholar at the Hannah Arendt Centre at Bard College in 2017.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Mills will create an archive of dance in fragile states (1990s onward) and provide a theoretical reflection of the unique significance the art form carries for dancers engaging with it in those circumstances.

Meryl Rosofsky

Breaking Bread With Balanchine: On Food, Cooking, and the Creative Impulse in Choreography and in the Kitchen

Meryl Rosofsky is an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. She teaches and writes about food, meaning, and identity, using food as a lens onto cultural and social issues. She is a 2015 recipient of the NYU Steinhardt Teaching Excellence Award. Rosofsky serves on the Board of Trustees of the Joyce Theater Foundation and Gallim Dance, helping these organizations advance their missions in the world of dance. She is a past board member of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance and the New York chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, an invitational organization of women leaders in food. A physician by training, she has an MD from Harvard Medical School and a Masters degree in Food Studies from NYU Steinhardt. Her writing has appeared in Saveur, Gastronomica, Savoring Gotham, Edible East End, and other publications devoted to food and culture.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Rosofsky will explore the affinities between cooking and choreography in terms both metaphorical and practical, drawing inspiration from the social and cultural history embedded in Tanaquil Le Clercq’s remarkable The Ballet Cook Book from 1966; Balanchine’s own profound relationship to food and cooking; and the dance biographies, food stories, and recipes of some of today’s prominent dancers and choreographers. This work will form the basis for a New Ballet Cook Book for a modern audience.

Pam Tanowitz
New works for Pam Tanowitz Dance

Over the past 15 years, choreographer Pam Tanowitz has become known for her unflinchingly post-modern treatment of classical dance vocabulary. Her abstract movement challenges stylistic expectations, conventions of composition as well as the concert-going experience. Pam Tanowitz Dance was founded in 2000 as a platform for Tanowitz to explore her vision with a consistent group of dancers. Since then the company has received commissions and residencies at prestigious performance venues such as the Joyce Theater, Bard Summerscape Festival, New York Live Arts, the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, Danspace Project, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Baryshnikov Arts Center. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011 and the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University in 2013-14. In 2009, she received a Bessie Award for her dance, Be in the Gray With Me, at Dance Theater Workshop. Tanowitz has been invited to create new work for The Vail International Dance Festival and City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival; has set work on The Juilliard School, Ballet Austin, New York Theater Ballet and Saint Louis Ballet; and has been a guest choreographer in the dance departments at Barnard College, Princeton University, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Marymount Manhattan College, and Purchase College. Additional awards include three Joyce Theater Residency Grants and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. She holds dance degrees from the Ohio State University and Sarah Lawrence College.

At the Center for Ballet and the Arts, Tanowitz will work on various projects including a new evening length work commissioned by the Joyce Theater and a commission from Works & Process for her company and New York City Ballet dancers Gretchen Smith and Adrian Danchig-Waring.

The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about ballet and bringing vitality to its history, practice and performance in the 21st century. For more information on upcoming events, visit the Center for Ballet and the Arts at: balletcenter.n




Dana Mills

Dana Mills

Emily Coates

Emily Coates

Jonah Bokaer

Jonah Bokaer

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