What Makes A Masterpiece? Renowned Dance Critic Will Discuss at Drexel
Why are certain performances heralded as timeless and classic and not others? What makes a piece of art transcend into the realm of a cultural icon? Internationally renowned dance critic Deborah Jowitt will explore the topic “What Makes A Masterpiece?” on Thursday, October 4 from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Mandell Theater (33rd and Chestnuts Sts.), hosted by the dance program in Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The event is free and open to the public.
Using as a case study Pauline Koner’s solo dance masterpiece The Farewell (1962), set to the last movement of Gustav Mahler's Song of the Earth, Jowitt will answer the age-old question of what makes a masterpiece. Philadelphia’s Janet Pilla, who has toured nationally and internationally as a soloist of Ann Vachon/Dance Conduit for 12 years, will perform Koner’s The Farewell, which the New York Times has called a “most moving of homages.”
“It is an unusual opportunity to see an historically significant masterwork in dance performed live,” said Dr. Miriam Giguere, associate professor and director of Drexel’s dance program. “It is even rarer to hear from one of the preeminent dance critics of our times on how and why these great dances survive and become iconic. I am honored to present this lecture-demonstration to Drexel and the Philadelphia dance community. Dancers, dance history students, choreographers and anyone who values great works of art should be stimulated and inspired by this presentation.”
Jowitt began professionally dancing more than 50 years ago, performing in concerts by such luminaries as Phyllis Lamhut, Victoria Marks and Marta Renzi. As a dance critic for the Village Voice, The New York Times, Dance Magazine and numerous other publications for more than 40 years, she is considered one of the foremost voices on dance in America. Jowitt has served as a member and as co-chair of the Dance Advisory Panel to the National Council on the Arts. She is the recipient of dozens of awards, including a "Bessie" from the Dance Theater Workshop in 1985 for her contributions to dance criticism and an “Ernie,” an award reserved for dance's “unsung heroes,” from Dance/USA in 1998. In 2001, she was The Congress on Research in Dance’s honoree for her “Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research.” She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002.
Pilla has been featured as a soloist in performances in Czechoslovakia, England, Scotland and Taiwan as a company member of Terry Beck Troupe and Ed Groff/Jin Wen Yu Dancers. She has performed with numerous Philadelphia choreographers and dance companies, including Group Motion, dance Teller, SCRAP Performance Group and Opus I. In addition to dancing with the Jeanne Ruddy Dance, Pilla is a member of Trapezius Aerial Dance and Dance Fusion.