thinkspatial_logoThe UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Space & Place in Contemporary Performance Art

Ninotchka Bennahum

Professor, Department of Theater and Dance

University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, 2016 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)


Anna Halprin’s Parades & Changes (1965)

Abstract. Space is a fundamental concept in modern dance. Configured by bodies as they move, space acquires materiality and social and political identity. This talk considers how postwar performing and visual artists in the U.S. have used and radically redefined space to reconfigure the balance of power between them on and offstage. The place of contemporary performance has also shifted: from inside to outside, stage to street, alleyway, gallery and even rooftop. How has this willful loosening of the rules that traditionally governed the class and race-based use of space in classical and modern dance helped contemporary artists to acquire political and historical agency?

102213-Bennahum-225Bio. Ninotchka D. Bennahum is Professor of Dance History and Performance Studies in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A. in History and Art History from Swarthmore College. Her first book, Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina”: Flamenco & the Spanish Avant-Garde (Wesleyan University Press), is a biography of the great modernist Spanish dance artist La Argentina. Her second book, Carmen, a Gypsy Geography (Wesleyan University Press), traces a genealogical history of the Gitana flamenco dancer from the lands of the ancient Middle East to Hispano-Arab and Sephardic Spain. In 2012 she co-edited with her mother, Judith Chazin-Bennahum, a global anthology of essays on movement and culture entitled, The Living Dance: A Global Anthology of Essays on Movement & Culture (Kendall/Hunt). In 2015 she co-edited with Michelle Heffner-Hayes and K. Meira Goldberg a global anthology of transatlantic flamenco scholarship on race and gender theory entitled, Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Theoretical and Critical Perspectives (McFarland 2015). In 2013 she co-curated with K. Meira Goldberg the exhibition and catalog, 100 Years of Flamenco on the New York Stage at the Vincent Astor Gallery at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. In 2011 she co-curated with Christopher Pilafian Transformation & Continuance: Jennifer Muller and the Re-Shaping of American Modern Dance, 1959–2011. Currently, she is writing a history of the founding of American Ballet Theatre, where she served as the resident dance scholar from 1996 to 2012.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Werner Kuhn (805-893-8224, to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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ThinkSpatial: Ninotchka Bennahum