Award-winning dance writer to speak at GRW

Photo by Ryan Collerd for Pew Center for Arts and Research

Written By Rosalie Anthony, Staff Writer

Dixon Gottschild is a respected and influential voice in both the dance and academia communities. Gottschild published books, articles and essays, and her written works have earned her numerous awards. Gottschild is currently a retired professor with an honorary title of dance studies at Temple University. Now, she is coming to Point Park to discuss her latest book “Joan Myers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance.”

Gottschild’s roots have always been in the theater. However, her career as a professional performer of modern dance and experimental theater led her to question, research and analyze the sociopolitical dynamics in the dance world, specifically regarding people of color’s role. Although, she continues to do solo work with her husband, Helmut Gottschild, called “movement theater discourse,” which integrates research and collaboration.

In an interview with The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Gottschild commented on her biggest motivator as an artist.

“Sadly, my biggest motivator is the socio-political oppression of people of color—specifically, people’s of African lineage.”

The first work of art she saw that really impacted her was a showing of the original Broadway version of “West Side Story,” which she saw when she was 17 years old.

“Nevertheless, it was West Side Story’s contemporary tale of interracial love, an illicit affair, jazz music and dancing that made me simultaneously hot and cold: ecstatic to see onstage something that seemed to represent my aspirations and limitations all in one piece,” she said. “This, too, certainly contributed to my ‘performance as a measure of culture’ philosophy.”

Gottschild won a variety of awards for her works in 2011. She received a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance to complete her book on Joan Myers Brown and her legacy. In 2009, she received a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award for Art and Social Change. And, in 2008, she was a recipient of the Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Leadership in Dance Research. Gottschild was granted an award from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance to begin work on Joan Myers Brown and her legacy.

Point Park’s own Colleen Hooper, Ph.D. and assistant professor crossed paths with Gottschild in her studies at Temple University. Dr. Hooper had a hand in inviting Gottschild to come to Point Park University.

The lectures are free and will happen on Thursday, Feb. 5, in the GRW Performance Studio at 4:30 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 6 in the Pittsburgh Playhouse PNC Theatre at 7:00 p.m., where Gottschild will discuss “Researching Performance – The (Black) Dancing Body as a Measure of Culture” and “Joan Myers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina,” respectively. Only the Friday, Feb. 6 lecture, “Joan Myers Brown and the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina,” is open to the general public.