The Center Accepts 20 Fellows in its Most Competitive Application Round to Date.

Grid photo of all 2019-2020 fellows
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU's 2019-2020 Fellows

The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA), an international research institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences, today announced the 20 CBA Fellows for the 2019-2020 academic year. These distinguished individuals represent a wide range of disciplines and were selected among CBA’s largest ever applicant pool.

Choreographers Kimberly Bartosik, Emily Kikta, Milena Sidorova, and Preeti Vasudevan will receive The Center’s annual Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance, a unique fellowship designed to support the work of female creators and promote broader equity in the field.

The Center also announced that scholar Kara Yoo Leaman will receive this year’s Fellowship for the Study of Russia and Ballet, a joint fellowship with the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.

2019-20 Resident Fellows include dancer Jared Angle; choreographers Frances Chiaverini, Samar Haddad King, Abdul Latif, Alice Sheppard, and George Williamson; composer, educator, and former New York City Ballet dancer Aaron Severini; dance artist Ogemdi Ude; and scholars Kristin Boyce, Suzanne Carbonneau, Elizabeth Coker, Gillian Lipton, Barbara Gail Montero, Valleri Robinson, and Sophia Rosenfeld. (See full list of bios and project descriptions below.)

Entering its sixth year, the CBA Fellowship Program invites scholars and artists to The Center to develop self-directed projects that expand the way we think about ballet’s history, practice, and performance. Fellows come from a multitude of disciplines and bring a breadth of experience to the residency. They are not required to be experts in ballet. The program encourages fellows to engage with ideas beyond their core disciplines and take risks with their work without the pressure of a finished product.

Previous fellows have included art historian Claire Bishop, writer and reporter Alma Guillermoprieto, writer and critic Marina Harss, harpist and producer Bridget Kibbey, choreographer Lauren Lovette, designer Jean-Marc Puissant, scholar Janice Ross, choreographer Pam Tanowitz, singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, and filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.


Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance:

Photo of Kimberly Bartosik

Photo Credit: Scott Shaw

Kimberly Bartosik
The Encounter

Kimberly Bartosik’s work has been presented by BAM Next Wave 2018, LUMBERYARD, Wexner Center for the Arts, New York Live Arts, Dance Place, American Dance Festival, American Realness, Gibney Dance, Abrons; The Yard, MASS MoCA/Jacob’s Pillow, Danspace Project, Artdanthe, FIAF’s Crossing the Line, Festival Rencontres Chorégraphique Internationales, The Kitchen, and others. She has received funding from MAP Fund; NEFA’s National Dance Project Production & Touring Grant; Jerome Foundation; FUSED (French-U.S. Exchange in Dance); USAI/Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; NYFA's BUILD; New Music USA; Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists and Emergency Grants, and others. Bartosik is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow in Choreography and a 2017-20 New York Live Arts Live Feed Residency Artist. She received her BFA from North Carolina School of the Arts, and MA in 20th Century Art and Art Criticism from The Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Research of the New School University. Bartosik received a Bessie Award for exceptional artistry as a 9-year member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Bartosik’s fellowship will support the research and development of The Encounter, the first of a multi-iteration performance work for 6-8 dancers aspiring toward careers in ballet, ages 12-15. The project is her response to what she learned from having a young performer, or “young witness,” in her work, as well as her profound distress at the recent, serious revelations of deep dysfunctions within the world of major ballet institutions. The Encounter draws from ballet vocabulary, re-envisions it, and transforms it through a shared exchange of creative process with young dancers, asking: How are their bodies vessels for communication about our own place in the world?

Emily Kikta
Exploring Dance and the Camera

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Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

Emily Kikta began studying videography, video editing and creating dance for camera as a Communications and Media Studies major at Fordham University. She began choreographing in 2010 at the School of American Ballet’s Student Choreographic Institute and has since created work for SAB’s Winter Ball, New York Choreographic Institute’s First Steps Project, and Dance Camera West’s To The Sea Festival. In partnership with Peter Walker she has co-directed, choreographed and filmed the advertising video campaign for the New York City Ballet at Saratoga Performing Arts Center since 2017, and their dance videos have been seen at Dance Camera West Festival and on Dance Magazine, Pointe Magazine and CurbedNY. She has been a dancer with the New York City Ballet since 2010.

During her fellowship, Kikta will explore the relationship between dance and the camera and experiment with how they can interact to create a unique theater experience. She will combine her knowledge behind the camera with her original choreography to develop a complex and collaborative relationship between dance film and live theater. At CBA, she hopes to learn how video and other multimedia technology can expand the reach of ballet and of choreographic storytelling in the 21st century.  

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Photo Credit: Sebastien Galtier

Milena Sidorova
Human Behaviour, Technology and Dance

Milena Sidorova is an award-winning Dutch choreographer and a professional ballerina. Her choreography “The Spider” has been performed worldwide and has received more than 12 million views on YouTube. She has created 20 unique choreographies, including several for the Dutch National Ballet. Sidorova’s work offers a strong element of relatability. She wants members of the audience to see familiar life situations in a new light through the movements of the dancers on stage. Her two latest choreographies SAND and A.I. were selected for International Draft Works 2019 and were performed at the Royal Opera House in London.

During her CBA Fellowship, Sidorova intends to explore several ideas and techniques that she can expand and develop in the upcoming years into full-scale choreographies. One area of interest is the influence of technology on our behavior: the way we approach communication, how we perceive ourselves, and what keeps us busy.

Preeti Vasudevan

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Preeti Vasudevan is an award-winning choreographer and performer creating provocative contemporary works from her Indian tradition. Founder and Artistic Director of Thresh Performing Arts Collaborative, her mission is to create experimental productions that foster a provocative dialogue with identity, and our relationship with heritage cultures and contemporary life. Recent highlights include: 2018 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists; 2018 Jerome Robbins Dance Division’s Dance Research Fellowship, NY; 2018 Selected Artist, DanceMotion USA Follow-On Program with BAM; 2018-19 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s 2018-2019 Observership Class; 2018, LabWorks Residency, New Victory Theater, NY; Spring 2016 Resident Fellow, The Center for Ballet and the Arts, NY; Artist in Residence, New York Live Arts (2015-17), NY; 2015 DPA Atelier award, LIMS, NY; Presenter at the TEDxBarnard, Barnard College, Columbia University. Vasudevan is part of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble working with international artists on cultural diplomacy and creative risk and is the creator of ground-breaking educational website, Dancing for the Gods (in collaboration with the Dept of Education, NYC).

L’Oriente is a new multi disciplinary choreographic work that seeks to explore the possibilities that emerge when Western ballet with Opera and classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) with Carnatic music are juxtaposed and entwined. The work will draw from sources such as the Délibes’ operatic ballet Lakmé, and the southern Indian courtesan music that experienced a remarkable renaissance in the mid-nineteenth century—around the same time Lakmé was premiered in Paris (1883). L’Oriente offers a contrasting perspective: a contemporary lens through which to discover shared lives and cultures in a modern and interconnected (globalized) world.

Fellowship for the Study of Russia and Ballet:

Photo of Kara Yoo Leaman

Photo Credit: Rosen-Jones Photography

Kara Yoo Leaman
George Balanchine and the Art of Musical Choreography

Kara Yoo Leaman is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Oberlin College Conservatory and a co-founder of the Dance and Movement Interest Group of the Society for Music Theory. Leaman’s research takes music-analytic approaches to dance in order to examine how the kinesthetic and spatial patterns of dance interact musically with the sonic works to which they are performed. Her work also develops new methods in digital dance research and advances the recognition of dance as a musical activity. Leaman holds an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University, an M.A. in Music Theory from CUNY Queen’s College, and a Ph.D. in Music Theory from Yale University, where her dissertation, Analyzing Music and Dance: George Balanchine’s Choreography to Tchaikovsky and the Choreomusical Score, was awarded the Theron Rockwell Field Prize in 2017. She is currently working on a monograph that analyzes the ballets of George Balanchine from a music-theoretic perspective.

Leaman’s project examines George Balanchine’s choreographies to the music of Bach, Bizet, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky in order to explore Balanchine’s expression of musical artistry through choreography. Tracing connections between the movement patterns in Balanchine’s ballets and their musical scores, this study provides evidence to support long-held intuitions regarding Balanchine’s music-based choreographic process and suggests new ways to understand music-dance interactions in these works. Applying the latest tools of music analysis and digital video editing along with Leaman’s own music-based movement notation, Leaman plans to illustrate how Balanchine both replicated patterns from musical scores in his dances and constructed other patterns to complement the music.

Resident Fellows (Fall 2019):

Jared Angle
Balanchine Partnering

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Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

Jared Angle is a Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet. He started his ballet training in Altoona, Pennsylvania, before continuing his studies at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. Since joining the company in 1998, he has danced many works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. He has originated roles in new works by Peter Martins, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Millepied, Justin Peck, Richard Tanner, Melissa Barak, Helgi Tomasson, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. Guest appearances include Rome Opera Ballet, Singapore Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theater, and the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors televised on CBS.

As a dancer known for partnering skills, Angle wants to explore the style and technique of partnering in George Balanchine’s ballets, and hopes to define what he has spent his career practicing. Angle is also interested in the ways that Balanchine’s ballet partnering technique can be used in new ways and to portray different relationships onstage.  

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Photo Credit: David Gonsier

Elizabeth Coker
Feeling, Seeing, Hearing Balance: Empirics and Poetics of Movement

Elizabeth (Betsy) Coker—dancer, dance-maker, scientist, teacher—is co-Artistic Director of Seán Curran Company and Assistant Arts Professor of Dance at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Coker’s areas of research include multi-sensory integration, motion capture technologies, and mental imagery in dancers. She has taught, created, and set choreography with dance students and professionals across the country and world, as well as at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera de Montreal, San Diego Opera and Yale Repertory Theater.

Feeling, Seeing, Hearing Balance is an interdisciplinary experiment investigating sensor-based biofeedback technologies as both clinical and creative instruments. This project explores the transgression of boundaries defining art and science as traditionally disparate cultures and seeks to approach knowledge-making from quantitative and aesthetic perspectives. This work will culminate in three distinct outcomes represented by text-based, digital, and performative traditions.  

Abdul Latif
A Seagull: The City Swan

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Photo Credit: Ahron R. Foster

Abdul Latif is a choreographer, composer and writer-director from New York City who began as in independent producing artist over the course of his tenure as the inaugural Lincoln Center Education Artist-in-Residence of Lincoln Center Institute, Artist Mentoring Lab, where he was the founding Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow 2012-2014. Latif's choreographic work with the Martina Arroyo Foundation Prelude to Performance and Harlem Opera Theater Company provided him the opportunity to set work in opera productions from 2014-2017. His first choreographic commission was created for Joffrey Ballet/Winning Works in 2015. In 2016 Latif was commissioned to choreograph a work on Principals of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the 22nd Fire Island Dance Festival in which his conceptualized set revolving design facilitated his first installation exhibition and artist residency with Alpha Development and through Wallplay Mgmt at Gallery 151. In 2017 Latif and the collective of multidisciplinary artists collaborating in partnership with Smoke & Mirrors Theater Company and the producers of HERE Arts received the Rauschenberg Foundation Prize and Artist for Social Justice Award for their 2019 Off-Broadway production of B.H.M. According to the United States of America. This same year he was a Dance Lab/New York, formerly Broadway Dance Lab, Guest Choreographer in Residence, where he began his entry into the development of an adaptation for Anton Chekhov's modern classic play The Seagull into a contemporary dance theater musical. In 2018 Latif was commissioned to create a work for the Ashley Bouder Project as part of the Joyce Theater Ballet Festival.

At CBA, Latif will collaborate on the next stage development of his adaptation The Seagull: A City Swan with New York Jazz Harmonic Founder and Orchestra Conductor Ron Wasserman, Composer/Sound Designer Avi Amon, and 2019 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient and Film Director Zoey Martinson. This work of the modern classic play The Seagull is contemporized into a dance musical theater work. Additionally, Latif will work in collaboration with dancers from various ballet companies, such as American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, on the creation of works that explore his integration of classical ballet port de bras, the multi-armed modality of Hindu gods, and the moving mechanics of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, all through the lens of his urban-contemporary dance sensibilities and fusion of the street and studio.

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Photo Credit: Godofredo Astudillo

Aaron Severini
Music Education for Ballet Training and Professionals

A recipient of a New Music USA Project Grant and The Juilliard Career Advancement Fellowship, Aaron Severini trained at the School of American Ballet and danced professionally for the New York City Ballet prior to receiving his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in composition from The Juilliard School. Co-founder of The Opera-Composer Collaborative Project, this program has culminated in performances at Juilliard and at creative Brooklyn incubator National Sawdust. Severini has also established a music lecture series at the School of American Ballet, building on his experience as an SAB alumnus with a vision for how ballet students can benefit from an increased familiarity with musical process. As a composer, he has garnered multiple awards and honors, including The ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award and In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores – Honorable Mention. Recent and ongoing collaborations include an original score for the theatrical production Echo & Narcissus at BAM, musical arrangements for An Evening Honoring Jessye Norman at National Sawdust and new works for a production at Rambert Dance in London in partnership with choreographer Marcus Willis.

Music Education for Ballet Training and Professionals, Severini’s CBA Fellowship project, will culminate in a new music educational resource specifically tailored to the needs of ballet teachers, students, professional dancers, and choreographers. Through a reimagined music curriculum and textbook, the project enables artists in the world of ballet to gain a more thorough understanding of music as it applies to their art form while fostering greater communication with musicians and composers. Having a powerful musical knowledge base helps lay a stronger foundation for successful, sustainable, and innovative collaborations in the making of ballet today.

George Williamson
Other Stories

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George Williamson is an established British choreographer working in classical and contemporary ballet. After his first professional commission Firebird for English National Ballet at London's Coliseum, he was appointed as Associate Artist with the company. Now a freelance choreographer, Williamson has collaborated with various designers and artists and produced work on-site at the Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Buckingham Palace, where his ballet Tempus was commissioned for the Queen's Coronation festival. He has produced ballets for Dutch National Ballet, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Lithuanian National Ballet, New English Ballet Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet and, most recently, his ballet Embrace for Birmingham Royal Ballet premiered at Sadler's Wells in London. Williamson received a nomination for the Prix Benois de la Danse, was a Rolex Mentor and protege arts initiative finalist, and won the 2017 Milwaukee Ballet Genesis Competition.

At CBA, Williamson aims to develop a new way of working with classical language, exploring how to engage with complicated current issues through ballet without either diluting the art form or descending into cliché. Working intimately with a group of dancers and collaborating with dramaturgs and contributors from other fields, he will develop a way of working which seeks to allow him to tell complex, contemporary narratives through ballet. He intends to challenge how classical dance is seen, to expand his skills as a choreographer, and to develop a way of creating ballets that engage with a diverse, modern audience in new and innovative ways.

Resident Fellows (Spring 2020):

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Photo Credit: Mississippi State University

Kristin Boyce
Diotima at the Ballet: Reinventing Modernism in Philosophy and the Arts

Kristin Boyce is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Fellow in the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University. She received a doctorate in Philosophy from The University of Chicago in 2010. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including an ACLS New Faculty Fellowship, a postdoctoral fellowship from Stanford University, and a Josephine De Karmán Dissertation Fellowship. Her primary research interests are in Philosophy of Art, History of Early Analytic Philosophy, and Wittgenstein. She is the 2019 Mississippi State University Humanities Teacher of the Year.

At CBA, Boyce will develop a manuscript organized around a concept of “conversation” that is first articulated by Diotima, one of the only female figures in Plato’s dialogues. In The Symposium, Diotima describes conversation not (as contemporary philosophers often think of it) as a vehicle for conveying information but instead as a medium for forming and transforming the soul of a citizen. The book argues that although contemporary philosophy and the arts find themselves in radically transformed circumstances, they should, and sometimes do, continue to answer to this time-honored Socratic aspiration and that the choreography of Alexei Ratmansky provides the best example of how this can be done.

Suzanne Carbonneau
Biography of Paul Taylor

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Photo Credit: Jim Amaral

Suzanne Carbonneau is a dance critic and historian, whose writings have appeared in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and other publications. She has served as a scholar-in-residence at Jacob’s Pillow, the Bates Dance Festival, and the American Dance Festival, and she directed the NEA Arts Journalism Program. Carbonneau serves as Artistic Advisor to Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Bogliasco. She holds a Ph.D. from NYU and is a professor at George Mason University.

At CBA, Carbonneau will develop Paul Taylor: His Life in Art, a biography authorized by the choreographer, who cooperated closely with the project before his death in 2018. The book is also a comprehensive analysis of Taylor’s artmaking, focusing on influences and sources, as well as an assessment of his achievement. The book will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  

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Photo Credit: Luis Alberto Rodriguez

Frances Chiaverini
Muse is Genius: The Myth of the Male Genius and the Rise of the Female Self-as-Muse

Born in Pittsburgh, Frances Chiaverini (BFA Juilliard 2003) is a performer, activist, and choreographer who uses interactive performance and community engagement to discuss ideas of objectivity, reproduction, valuation, and the politics of formalized dance aesthetics. With writer Robyn Doty, in 2017 she co-founded Whistle While You Work, a public interface for calling out sexism, harassment and discrimination in dance and performance. She is a two-time recipient of the Frankfurt am Main Cultural Funding Grant and was a Resident Fellow for two years at Pact Zollverein Choreographic Center in Essen. She was a dancer in The Forsythe Company in its final seasons, a choreographic consultant for Anne Imhof since 2015 for works at The Venice Biennale, MoMA PS. 1, and Art Basel, and now works with Trajal Harrell. Chiaverini directs workshops internationally, most recently for the Goethe Institute in Mexico and Armenia, for the Dramaturgische Gesellschaft Germany and The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

To truly understand how to bring gender equity to dance is to understand the systematic structures at play within the creation of choreographic work and in the daily practice of dance training. Perpetuating the myth of the single male genius oppresses the collaborators - the women, the muses - and unjustly erases their place in the tradition. At CBA, Chiaverini will engage in and document direct discussions with dancers and then build an exhibition around those findings. This collaborative project aims to to keep the dancer at the center of the work while acknowledging the impact of upholding damaging tradition and also empowering and inspiring a future beyond it.

Samar Haddad King
War, Peace, Technology, and Collective Transformation

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Photo Credit: Isabel Asha Penzlien

Samar Haddad King, Artistic/Founding Director of Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre (YSDT), graduated cum laude in choreography from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program under the tutelage of Kazuko Hirabayashi. With YSDT, King has created over 30 original works which have been performed in 10 countries across 4 continents. Awards and commissions include: Hubbard Street 2 - National Choreography Competition; Palest’In & OUT Festival (Paris, France) - Prix des Jeunes Créateurs Palestiniens pour la Diversité des Expressions Artistiques award; and the Palestinian Museum (Palestine) among others. In 2018 King was awarded La Fabrique Chaillot residency at Chaillot - Théâtre national de la Danse (Paris, France) for the development of Last Ward. King frequently collaborates on theatrical and musical theater productions, including the upcoming production of We Live in Cairo (American Repertory Theater, Boston, Massachusetts). She regularly lectures on her work at institutions including TanzKongress (Hanover, Germany), University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia), and Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies (New York, New York), and co-authored a chapter on dance in the Arab World with Sandra Noeth for the 2nd edition of Contemporary Choreography (Routledge, January 2018). 

As a CBA Resident Fellow, King will research and develop a methodology for the creation of a new multi-media, evening-length ensemble work drawing inspiration from Tolstoy’s War and Peace––juxtaposing this classical work in the modern/digital era. Because of the significant evolution of technology from the 19th to the 20th century, the rules and manners of war have evolved––war has become a part of our everyday news, thoughts, and screens. With the playing fields no longer clear and the enemy/civilian distinction blurred, King will examine how this evolution has infiltrated social fabric and genetic memory, using the corps de ballet as a reflection of these effects on the masses and collective transformation.

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Gillian Lipton
“I Was Dancing Civil Rights”: Arthur Mitchell, Racial Justice, and Ballet in America

Gillian Lipton’s research interests include dance and social justice, ballet, postwar American concert dance and performance, as well as archival theory and practice. She holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU and with Ford Foundation support recently completed a multi-year research and performance initiative with Arthur Mitchell on the development of his archive and related performance projects. As a performer, she recently collaborated on several exhibitions with the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A participant in the Mellon Postdoctoral Program in Dance Studies, her writing on dance and performance can be found in The Drama Review and Performance Research, and in a forthcoming anthology on dance The Futures of Dance Studies. Lipton has taught Critical Dance Studies and Performance Studies most recently at Yale and previously at Barnard, and Queens College, CUNY.

Lipton’s CBA Fellowship project builds on her multi-year research project with Arthur Mitchell—African-American dancer and institution builder—to investigate how concerns for racial justice during civil rights era America coalesced in Mitchell’s career and became manifest on the American ballet stage. As a CBA Fellow, her project will analyze key performances of Mitchell’s early dance career (1952-1961) including select appearances in opera, musical theater, modern dance, and with the New York City Ballet. Lipton will illustrate that these performances were foundational to Mitchell’s formulation of ballet as a vehicle for the expression of racial justice in America.

Barbara Gail Montero
Dance as Embodied Aesthetics

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Photo Credit: Jenny Lin

Barbara Gail Montero is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. She has been awarded research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her research focuses on one or the other of two different notions of body: body as the physical or material basis of everything, and body as the moving, breathing, flesh and blood instrument that we use when we run, walk, or dance. Before entering academia, she was a professional ballet dancer.

How should we understand the “kinesthetic appeal” of movement? Philosophers have traditionally confined the aesthetic realm to the visual and aural: beauty may be seen, but it can’t be felt. At CBA, Montero aims to provide a philosophical grounding for the kinesthetic experience and appeal of dance, as well as to investigate the relevance of such experiences for athletes.  

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Photo Credit: Zev Steinrock

Valleri Robinson
Cold War Stages: Rebuilding American-Soviet Peace and Friendship through Cultural Exchange, 1958-1962

Valleri (Hohman) Robinson, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Illinois, is author of the book Russian Culture and Theatrical Performance in America, 1891-1933 (Palgrave 2011). She received a Fulbright Award to work with Nikolai Kolyada at the Kolyada Theatre in Ekaterinburg, Russia in 2014. Her current book project, Cold War Stages: Performing Peace and Friendship in the Public Sphere, 1942-1965, has been supported by the American Theatre and Drama Society Faculty Research Award and the University of Illinois Research Board Award. She has published articles and book chapters on translating and adapting Anton Chekhov, adaptation as creative practice, the legacies of Yiddish playwright Jacob Gordin and director Konstantin Stanislavsky in America, and Arthur Miller’s impact in the 1940s. Robinson also works as a professional dramaturg and teaches courses on dramaturgy, adaptation, theatre historiography, and contemporary performance theory.

Robinson’s CBA Fellowship project is a study that centers on impresario Sol Hurok’s cultivation of a mass American audience for Soviet performance through the touring performances of the Moiseyev Folk Ensemble, the Beryozka Folk Ensemble, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Obratsov Russian Puppet Theatre, the Moscow Circus, and a massive Russian Festival of Music and Dance from 1958-1962. It explores how the American public was primed for these performances and how repertoire and choreography were selected to impress Americans with Russia’s cultural excellence, to promote a sense of multicultural, multinational unity, and to counter anti-Soviet representations in the U.S. This work examines the countless ways in which these Soviet performances on U.S. soil and the events surrounding them re-energized the American-Soviet Friendship movement and re-opened public spaces for debate activated around these performances for ‘peace.’

Sophia Rosenfeld
The Choices We Make: The Roots of Modern Freedom

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Sophia Rosenfeld is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches the intellectual, cultural, and political history of the modern West. She is the author of three books -- A Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (2001), Common Sense: A Political History (2011), and, most recently, Democracy and Truth: A Short History (2019) -- as well as numerous articles both in scholarly journals and in the mainstream press, including The Nation. She is currently co-editing a six-volume series called A Cultural History of Ideas from Antiquity to the Present, as well as writing a history of choice-making in which the history of dance will play a central role. She has previously been Professor of History at both the University of Virginia and Yale University and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, among others.

For her CBA Fellowship, Rosenfeld will be working on a critical piece of her current book project on the history of choice-making as the defining experience of freedom in the modern world. The piece is an investigation of how social dancing--and particularly waltzing and other “couple dances” of 19th-century Europe in which picking partners was not just an important prelude to the main activity but often central to the action as a whole—broke free of theatrical dance (including ballet) and was used to navigate changes in the rules governing the formation of couples and ultimately marriage (sometimes called “The Choice”) in real life. This project is also intended to illuminate the value of the study of the history of ballet and dance to our understanding of history more broadly.  

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Photo Credit: Beverlie Lord Satsun Photography

Alice Sheppard
(de)Formed Movement: Locating Histories of Disability in Ballet

Alice Sheppard creates movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies. Engaging with disability arts, culture, and history, Sheppard attends to the complex intersections of disability, gender, and race. She is the founder and artistic lead of Kinetic Light (KL), a project based collaborative working at the intersections of disability, dance, design, identity, and technology. Through rigorous investment in the histories, cultures, and artistic work of people with disabilities and people of color, KL promotes disability as a creative force and access as an aesthetic critical to the creative process, not a retroactive accommodation.

The traditional notion of a dancer’s body is predicated on the absence of what is commonly described as disability, and yet disability in ballet is everywhere: in offstage lives, onstage characters, and as the absent yet tangible presence that defines what ballet is not. That said, histories of disability in ballet extend beyond the knotty and unresolved questions of how disabled dancers execute ballet’s movement: disabled dancers can work in an art form that is defined by disability aesthetics and culture and yet recognizable as ballet. The tensions of these two perspectives of disability in ballet are the subject of Sheppard’s CBA Fellowship project.

Ogemdi Ude

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Photo Credit: Sydney King

Ogemdi Ude is a Nigerian-American dance artist, facilitator, and birth doula currently based in Harlem. Her work intertwines movement, soundscapes, and visual art to build black utopias and instigate lived and inherited trauma processing. Her work has been presented at Center for Performance Research, Movement Research at the Judson Church, Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, and Lewis Center for the Arts. She has served as Community Coordinator for the Public Works initiative at the Public Theater and is a member of the 2019 No Longer Empty Curatorial Lab. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in English, Dance, and Theater from Princeton University in 2016. 

In Dig/Hear/Sing/--, Ude will study Labanotation and integrate it into her own choreographic practice, investigating the healing capacities of archiving Black Diasporic re-memberings. Ude will craft and present a series of scored dances, as well as facilitate audiences in generating their own creative reflections. Ude aims to develop a practice that is both an ephemeral and tangible rewriting of Black Diasporic histories.

The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA) is an international research 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 the art form’s history, practice, and performance in the 21st century.

The Center is made possible by founding and ongoing support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and New York University and additional support from The Charles H. Revson Foundation, Fishman Family Fund, an advised fund of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Merce Cunningham Trust, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. We also extend a special thanks to individual members of CBA’s Center Circle for their essential support.

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