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Gillian Jakab

Gillian Jakab has served as the dance editor of the Brooklyn Rail since 2016.

Peek Into Paris

From the art majeur to the avant-garde, modern and postmodern dance shines in La Ville Lumière. Although it presents its share of established companies and choreographers, Théâtre National de Chaillot tends to be more experimental and supportive of the up-and-coming than Théâtre de la Ville, where Preljocaj, Bausch, and De Keersmaeker were among this season’s principaux artistes.

Hervé Koubi Drops Day and Night on the Pillow

What the Day Owes to the Night (Ce Que le Jour Doit à la Nuit). The title of choreographer Hervé Koubi’s spectacle de la danse is drawn from Yasmina Khadra’s 2010 novel: a coming-of-age love story set in the period before, and the aftermath of, the French-Algerian war. It’s not that the piece draws from the novel’s plot or characters, but rather the novel’s setting, Oran, Algeria, was the home of Koubi’s ancestors, and the poetry of the title captured his imagination as apropos of the work.

Dancing to the Historical Record

The function of an archive is curiously enigmatic when it comes to dance. As an embodied practice, existing within time and space, dance is naturally passed on through lineages of dancers.

In Conversation

LILI CHOPRA with Gillian Jakab

The “Line” in FIAF’s (French Institute : Alliance Française) Crossing the Line Festival may, at first glance, be seen as the one between New York and French culture.

Image to Body, and Back Again

Classically trained in dance, Pirici expanded her work to experimental and site-specific practices in the styles of Tino Sehgal and Jérôme Bel over the last several years in Europe. She’s garnered attention in the European art world and only this past fall confronted New York audiences with her piece Threshold: a chain of performers in a human barrier—or portal—at the gate that separates the eastern and western Rail Yards on the Highline. Co-natural traces its roots back to other earlier projects—If You Don’t Want Us, We Want You and Leaking Territories, among others—in which performers stand on site and embody the poses of historical monuments, challenging their static authority.

What Remains: Rankine and Rawls’s Mindscape

In her book-length poems Claudia Rankine weaves together highly personal anecdotes with collective memories of politicized events and popular culture: an inadvertent racist comment, the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin, Zidane’s head-butt in the 2006 World Cup—these are the fodder for her filters.

In Conversation

with Gillian Jakab

Dance as a form of perseverance and resistance is not just the stuff of movies. Tatjana Barbakoff, a now much-forgotten historical figure, did just that, at great personal risk. Like Rosie, Barbakoff danced as long as she could in the face of hate during the Holocaust. A dancer from Russia (now Latvia) of Jewish and Chinese descent, Barbakoff moved to Germany and had a successful career performing throughout literary cabarets and theaters in the 1920s and early ’30s.


Trisha Brown’s Accumulation is set to the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band,” a song that itself is expressly referential to its bluegrass and Americana influences. This piece, along with two (Spanish Dance, 1973 and Line Up, 1976) set to Bob Dylan’s version of the Gordon Lightfoot tune “Early Mornin’ Rain,” stands stark against the rest of Brown’s early work of the 1960s and ’70s: a silent, site-specific era.

In Conversation

Social Bodies:
Inside Work/Travail/Arbeid
Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker with Gillian Jakab

Dance and visual art have a rich history of mutual influence and symbiotic exhibition. Dancers as visual art subjects have spanned the globe and the millennia—from Dehli to Dakar to Degas. “Dance-in-the-Museum,” as a concept and sub-genre, is probably not as old, but it’s older than you may think.

Pina Bausch:
Three Generations On

Pina Bausch’s dance-theater has left an indelible mark on Brooklyn (and the world), captivating and confronting audiences, dancers, and choreographers since Tanztheater Wuppertal’s BAM premiere in 1984. The return to BAM of the iconic double-bill Café Müller and The Rite of Spring this past month reminded us of Bausch’s enduring power—to haunt, to dazzle—across time. In recognition of her abiding impact and influence, the Rail ’s coverage is situated in three generational vantage points on Bausch’s career and legacy. The Rail is honored to have dance critic doyenne Deborah Jowitt bringing to bear the long view of the Tanztheater Wuppertal’s lasting sway over the dance world; she is one of the very few who can. Deborah is joined by the dance scholar Clare Croft, and by Rail contributing writer Sariel Frankfurter. If you have a reflection on Bausch’s legacy, tweet it to @gillianjakab or @TheBrooklynRail. —Gillian Jakab

In Conversation


Gillian Jakab sat down at the Breuer with Met Assistant Curator Brinda Kumar and Choreographer Andrea Miller to discuss the intersections of the exhibition and performance.

Editor's Note

MoMA’s exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done marks a major expansion in the recognition of postmodern dance history. The museum has been steadily collecting and presenting work from the Judson period of the early 1960s, and with this exhibition, rallies and assembles the dances, films, and ephemera in one place.

Amendments, New Waves, and Updates

In 1920, when women won the right to vote in America, Martha Graham was 24. Graham was performing in the early modern dance group Denishawn and developing her own pelvis-driven movement style that would become the core of her company.

Editor’s Note

As 2019 draws to a close, this section dedicates a number of its pages to the Bauhaus centennial. The Bauhaus legacy has stood the test of time, not least because of its principle of inclusion; its multi-disciplinary and egalitarian values saw dance and performance integrated into its design practice.

Editor’s Note

With the world’s stages dark, this month’s Rail dance section looks at dance from a distance. Our writers explore dance as a salve for isolation, how dance bears up as streamed performance video, podcasts on the art of dancemaking, choreographies of dancing together, apart. Dance, for the individual and for the collective, has been a source of healing and human connection since time immemorial. I hope these pieces remind and inspire us to find new ways to support the dance community in this time of need.

In Conversation

STEVEN MELENDEZ with Gillian Jakab

The New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB) has been widely recognized for its LIFT program, which provides rigorous classical dance instruction and performance opportunities on full scholarship to the city’s underserved and homeless children. The LIFT program builds confidence, discipline, and coordination, and, once in a while, turns out a virtuosic art-maker like Steven Melendez, who has exceeded even the program’s most optimistic expectations.

Two Revolutions: Saw You Yesterday and Mourn and Never Tire

Tykulsker and her performers explore physical extremes and “community cohesion” at the heart of these tensions at levels ranging from the interpersonal to the national. The piece is a mash-up of postmodern disorder that mirrors the senselessness of violent incidents and the randomness of whether they get attention. The piece is coupled with Jennifer Harge’s movement installation Mourn and Never Tire, which serves as inspiration for her black community and a eulogy for black lives lost to police brutality.

In Conversation


In June, when the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic really sunk in for the dance community, a new wave of selective police brutality drew and riveted global attention on a second pandemic: rampant racism. It was then that Charmaine Warren, with Kimani Fowlin and Nicholas Hall, founded Black Dance Stories (BDS). Every Thursday evening Black dance artists shared their stories in a public Zoom forum.

Healing a Hundred Years of Hatred One Step at a Time

In his brutal poem bewailing the beginnings of the genocide, renowned Armenian poet Siamanto used the imagery of dance as a weapon of humiliation’s prelude to slaughter.

Four Continents and Five Boroughs on the Harbor

The annual outdoor Battery Dance Festival is like a show-and-tell of the company’s tireless international activity, the Dancing to Connect program. Battery Dance’s new and old friends from these ten countries on four continents were made the old-fashioned way—by asking them to dance.

At Home and in the Crowd

Audience members wait in the entrance of the townhouse (now run as cultural space by the nonprofit 1014) before filing in to a back room. Hassabi’s FIGURES (2019) unfolds. “51, 52,” a projected voice counts as four dancers move subtly between twisted sculptural poses. The harsh fluorescent light overhead cancels what warm tones would have been offered by the ornate, wood molding.

In Conversation


Gillian Jakab sat down at the Breuer with Met Assistant Curator Brinda Kumar and Choreographer Andrea Miller to discuss the intersections of the exhibition and performance.

In Conversation

CORI OLINGHOUSE with Gillian Jakab

Olinghouse is the founder/director of The Portal Project, a living archives initiative dedicated to the transmission of performance through archival and curatorial frameworks. Identifying footage that would represent new entry points into Brown’s early work, Olinghouse and renowned video artist Charles Atlas collaborated to create the installation for MoMA. Gillian Jakab sat down with Olinghouse at MoMA

Crossing the Line: Stefanie Batten Bland's Look Who's Coming to Dinner

As an admitted Francophile, I’m always drawn to the FIAF’s annual Crossing the Line festival. But as this year’s programming continues to prove this is not la francophilie de votre grand-mere. (If you want Bordeaux and brie in berets by the Seine… who can blame you, but this is not that kind of party).

Mariana Valencia’s Album and Bouquet

Dance artist Mariana Valencia wants to leave breadcrumbs for her biographer. “I’m not sure who will write a history about me so I’m starting now to help them have good notes.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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