Moving Memories: Representing the Holocaust and Survivor Stories Through Dance | Shalom Austin

Moving Memories: Representing the Holocaust and Survivor Stories Through Dance

Community Events, The Jewish Outlook

Mar 3, 2023

Dr. Rebecca Rossen. Courtesy: Ballet Austin

How can the Holocaust be represented through dance? How can dance move memory, transmit history, and generate dialogue about bigotry and social justice? 

The “Moving Memories: Representing the Holocaust and Survivor Stories Through Dance” event places dance historian Dr. Rebecca Rossen in dialogue with Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin’s Sarah & Ernest Butler Family Fund Artistic Director, whose critically-acclaimed ballet, “Light: The Holocaust and Humanity Project,” will be restaged March 31–April 2 at the Long Center. Dr. Rossen will begin the session by discussing what she terms “testimony dance,” dance performances based on the oral histories of Holocaust survivors that archive survivor stories while situating audience members as witnesses, challenging viewers to not be complacent if we truly mean “never again.” 

This richly illustrated presentation will focus on three significant testimony dances: Ballet Austin’s Light, based on the life of Houston philanthropist Naomi Warren (1920–2016), a Polish Jew who survived Auschwitz- Birkenau, Ravensbrück, and Bergen-Belsen; Bill T. Jones’s Analogy: Dora/Tramontane, set to an oral history that Jones conducted with Dora Werzberg Amelan (1920–2020), a French Jew who worked for the resistance; and Reka Szabo’s Sea Lavender and the Euphoria of Being (2016), a moving duet for a young dancer and 90-year old Eva Fahidi (b. 1925), a Hungarian-Jewish survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Allendorf (Buchenwald). The session will conclude with a discussion between Rossen and Mills about the process of making the ballet and its impact. 

Rebecca Rossen is Associate Professor and Head of the Performance as Public Practice Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2015, she was honored with a Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. She is the author of Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance (Oxford University Press, 2014), winner of the Oscar G. Brockett Prize for excellence in dance research. Her new book examines representations of the Holocaust, memory, and transgenerational trauma in contemporary dance. This research is supported by a 2023-24 National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship and a Rapoport Fellowship from the Schusterman Center in Jewish Studies. 

The event will be held on March 7 at 7:15 p.m. on the Dell Jewish Community Campus. For more information, visit balletaustin.org/stephen-mills/light-the-holocaust-humanity-project/

 

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