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Jews on View: Spectacle, Degradation, and Jewish Corporeality in Contemporary Dance and Performance

From: Theatre Journal
Volume 64, Number 1, March 2012
pp. 59-78 | 10.1353/tj.2012.0012



in the early to mid-twentieth century, modern dance played a critical role in assimilating Jewish bodies into the majority and replacing negative images with positive ones. in contrast, postmodern dances by Jewish choreographers have rejected universality for specificity, investigated the politics of difference, and issued sharp social critiques. still, most do not delve too deeply into stereotyping. this essay considers how three contemporary dance and performance artists—Lawrence Goldhuber, Rebecca Pappas, and Steven Cohen—use spectacle, degradation, and irreverence to make corporeal and performative interventions in a bodily history of anti-semitism, and to consider the impact of this history on their own bodies and identities. Goldhuber's When the World Smells Like Bacon (2001), Pappas's Thumbnail (Monster 0) (2006), and Cohen's Cleaning Time (Vienna): a Shandeh un a Charpeh (A Shame and a Disgrace) (2007) viscerally confront difference, victimization, and power through public acts and radically Jewish physicalities.

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