Dance Studies ~ Performance Studies ~ Intellectual History ~ Curatorial Practice
Ph.D. New York University, Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts
M.A. New York University, Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts
B.A. Swarthmore College - European Economic History, Art History
Ninotchka Bennahum is Professor of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her areas of teaching and research include dance history and theory: corporeality, embodiment and feminist historiographies of flamenco, ballet and contemporary performance. She is the author of Antonia Mercé, ‘La Argentina: Flamenco & the Spanish Avant-Garde (2000), a biohistory of Mercé’s Spanish dance modernism, and Carmen, a Gypsy Geography (2013), a transhistorical study of the Gitana in Middle Eastern and Spanish cultural history. She has co-authored two global dance anthologies: The Living Dance: A Global Anthology of Essays on Movement & Culture (2012), coedited with Judith Chazin-Bennahum (mom), and Flamenco on the Global Stage: Theoretical, Historical and Critical Perspectives (2015), coedited with Michelle Heffner-Hayes and K. Meira Goldberg. And she has co-curated three exhibitions with performance installations and accompanying books: Transformation & Continuance: Jennifer Muller & the Re-Shaping of American Modern Dance, 1959 – Present (2011); 100 Years of Flamenco on the New York Stage (2013) with K. Meira Goldberg; and Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955 – 1972 (2017) with Bruce Robertson and Wendy Perron. Bennahum curated an extension of Radical Bodies –Radical Pedagogy for Hunter College, New York City. The exhibition, now expanded to include histories of dance education in the U.S. is currently being installed at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the nation’s first Dance Department. Her next co-curated exhibition with Bruce Robertson, Border-Crossings: Histories of the Body in Exile, opens at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center in the spring of 2023.
Between 1996 and 2012, Bennahum designed and taught the Dance Studies curriculum for American Ballet Theatre. Currently, she is writing a critical examination of the company entitled, The Founding of American Ballet Theatre on the Eve of War.
Ninotchka Bennahumis Professor of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her areas of teaching and research include dance history, art history, performance theory, and feminist historiographies of flamenco, ballet, and contemporary performance.
Bennahum grew up in New Mexico watching the flamenco performances of María Benitez and Eva Encinas-Sandoval, training in ballet and music. She holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University where she studied with Brooks McNamara, Joe Roach, Cynthia Novack, Richard Schechner, Mick Taussig, Peggy Phelan, Lynn Garafola, Deborah Jowitt, and Marcia. B. Siegel. She holds a B.A. in History and Art History from Swarthmore College where she studied with Robert DuPlessis, Marjorie Murphy, Sharon Friedler, Lillian Li, and T. Kaori Kitao.
While in graduate school, she became a stringer for The Village Voice under Elizabeth Zimmer, and a contributing editor of Dance Magazinewhere she was assigned flamenco performances in tablaosand small theaters throughout New York City and Spain. What emerged was a growing body of Roma, Spanish, and American female flamenco artists – a post-Francoist feminist historiography. She is the author of two books on the subject: Antonia Mercé, ‘La Argentina: Flamenco & the Spanish Avant-Garde(2000), a bio-history of Antonia Mercé and the intersectionality of Leftism and Spanish dance modernism, andCarmen, a Gypsy Geography (2013), a feminist, transhistorical study of the Gitanain Ancient Middle Eastern and Spanish history.
With time, she branched into other subject areas, co-authoring four books on dance, embodiment, and flamencology, the first with her mother, the distinguished dance scholar, Judith Chazin-Bennahum, entitled The Living Dance: A Global Anthology of Essays on Movement & Culture (2012); the second, an exhibition and published volume Transformation & Continuance:Jennifer Muller & the Re-Shaping of American Modern Dance, 1959 – Present (2011); the third, a co-curated exhibition and published book with K. Meira Goldberg, 100 Years of Flamenco on the New York Stage (2013), and the fourth, a transatlantic volume of feminist flamenco scholarship, the result of an SDHS/CORD conference in New Mexico: Flamenco on the Global Stage: Theoretical, Historical and Critical Perspectives (2015), co-edited with Michelle Heffner-Hayes and K. Meira Goldberg.
Seeking a more fluid, interdisciplinary approach to performance art and dance scholarship, she collaborated with the American art and architectural historian, Bruce Robertson, Director of the Art, Design, & Architecture Museum at UCSB, and preeminent Judson scholar, critic, and Trisha Brown dance artist, Wendy Perron. The result, Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955 – 1972 (2017), a bi-coastal exhibition, curated volume and performance series, considered the historical and artistic significance of Anna Halprin in seeding postmodern dance. Halprin’s turn to Talmudic ethics and a bio-anatomical approach to the body as a natural environment democratized how, where, when, and by what means we dance. Bennahum was invited to install a smaller iteration of Radical Bodies focused solely on Anna Halprin and her radical Civil Rights era pedagogy. This is a permanent installation in the Dance Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, opening 2019. In 2021, she will again co-curate an exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center on California/New York Dance Modernism and the late 19thcentury birth of contemporary performance along the Central Coast.
From 1996 to 2012, Bennahum designed and taught a global dance history curriculum for American Ballet Theatre’s 7 summer intensive programs located throughout the U.S. She also taught dance and performance theory to ABT and ABT II. Currently, she is writing a history of the company, examining the relationship between war, citizenship, and ballet.
The Founding of American Ballet Theatre on the Eve of War - Book Manuscript in process
Border-Crossings: HIstories of the Body in Exile, opens at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center in the spring of 2023 - Exhibition - Co-Curation
Radical Pedagogy: Margaret H'Doubler, Anna Halprin, and American Dance 1916 - Present, a permanent installation at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, opening: October 11, 2019 Exhibition - Sole Curation
2019 International Colloquium on Dance and Performance Studies - April 29, 2019
Race, Ballet, and American Dance - HSSB Ballet Studio, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. followed by a reception
Performances by Calvin Royal III (Principal, American Ballet Theatre), Unity Phelan (Soloist, The New York City Ballet), Alicia Graf Mack (Former Principal Dancer, The Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, now Chair of Dance, The Juilliard School)
Staged by Ms. Heather Watts, Former Principal Dancer, The New York City Ballet
Agon (1957) and Afternoon of a Faun (1953), piano by Cameron Grant, Principal Pianist, The New York City Ballet Orchestra
Keynote Talk: Dr. Lynn Garafola, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Dance History, Columbia University/Barnard College
Nj.com article, "Flamenco's fiery history in New York"
The New York Times article, "A Spanish Dance on American Shores - ‘100 Years of Flamenco in New York,’ at Public Library"
The New Yorker Critic's Notebook article, "A Gypsy in Their Soul"
Bennahum's book, Carmen, A Gypsy Geography
THTR 252: Race, Immigration, and the Cold War Politics of Contemporary American Dance
THTR 251: Dancing the Diaspora: Tracing the Africanist Presence in Afro-Caribbean and American Worlds
THTR 220: Corporealities: Theories of the Body in Dance History
THTR: Special Topics: Performance and Diaspora
Undergraduate courses - Fulfill GE Writing Requirements
Dance 36: Histories of Modern Dance & Contemporary Performance
Dance 35: World Dance
DAN 145c: Dancing the Diaspora: Dances of the Afro-Caribbean and American Worlds
DAN145e: Dance Modernism: Cubism, Surrealism and the Euro-American Avant- Garde, 1905 – 1939
DAN 145s: Bodies of Social Protest: Art, Dance & Film, 1955 – 1975
DAN 158: Teaching Dance in Community: Fundamentals of Engaging the At-Risk Youth Artist
DAN 145a: George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, 1904 – Present
DAN 145g: Race, Ballet, and Contemporary American Dance
DAN: Special Topics: Flamenco: Roma-Andalusian History and Cultural Memory