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Rebecca Rossen, “The Dancing Jew(ess): Ethnic Ambiguity and Jewish Drag in American Modern Dance”

Faculty lecture series for the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies

Wed, April 14, 2010 | Texas Hillel, 2105 San Antonio St.

12:00 PM


In 1932, Pauline Koner premiered Chassidic Song and Dance, a solo in which the young American dancer curled her tendrils into peyes, donned a black hat, and impersonated a Hasidic boy. In this lecture, Professor Rossen discusses how discourses of ethnicity, gender, nationality, and embodiment converged in Jewish drag performances on the American concert stage and in Yiddish film. Although these female performers reproduced certain stereotypes about Eastern-European Jews, their Jewish transvestism challenged essentialist notions of gender and ethnicity and ultimately undermined the androcentrism of Judaism.

Dr. Rebecca Rossen (Department of Theatre and Dance, Performance as Public Practice Program) is a choreographer and dance historian, as well as afaculty affliate in the Center for Women's and Gender Studies, the American Studies Department, and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies.. She is the author of Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance (in-progress), as well as “The Jewish Man and His Dancing Shtick: Stock Characterization and Masculinity in Postmodern Dance,” in You Should See Yourself!: Jewish Identity and American Postmodern Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2006); and “The Dancing Jew(ess): Ethnic Ambiguity and Jewish Drag in American Modern Dance” (forthcoming, Feminist Studies). Her writing and reviews have also appeared inOpera Quarterly, Dance Teacher Magazine, and Dance Research Journal. As a dancer and choreographer, she has presented her work throughout the U.S. and in Israel. 
Lunch will be served

RSVP to Galit Pedahzur at

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    The University of Texas at Austin
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