This and That: Jewishness in the Dances of Daniel Nagrin

Dance Scholar Dr Diane Wawrejko, PhD, MFA, CMT, presented her academic paper This and That: Jewishness in the Dances of Daniel Nagrin at Jews and Jewishness in the Dance World, an Arizona State University (ASU) Jewish Studies conference, held October 13th-15th 2018.

An excerpt from This and That: Jewishness in the Dances of Daniel Nagrin summarizes Dr Wawrejko’s presentation:

In this paper, I examine American choreographer and dancer Daniel Nagrin’s choreographic methods as a study in Jewishness. I extend the notion that dancing Jewish not only resides explicitly through overtly Jewish themes, time and place, subject matter, and tropes (Jackson in Ingber 2011, and Rossen 2014), but also is posited subtly yet discreetly in the methods, content/function, and structures and devices used to create and perform concert dances. I ask, “In what ways do Daniel Nagrin’s dances tacitly affirm Jewishness through identity, agency, and questioning?”

My personal experience with Nagrin and admiration for his work is the inspiration and force behind this research. By tracing patterns (Adshead et al 1988, and Kane 2003), I assert that Nagrin’s choreographic methods embody characteristics of Jewishness that are implicit yet tangible.  My analysis contributes new knowledge to the dialogue surrounding both Jewishness in American dance and American modern dance, therefore calling for a re-thinking of their defining criteria.

Full text:


For details on the ASU Jews and Jewishness in the Dance World Conference, here is the full link:

Dr Diane Wawrejko’s biography can be found at Dance Voices:

Other work on Daniel Nagrin by Dr Diane Wawrejko: