thINKing Dance(Editor's Note: Philadelphia dance artists are not known so much for their language as for their ability to transcend it — but when they do speak publicly, they are worth listening to. Guest writer Tania Isaac Hyman, a Philadelphia dancer, choreographer, and assistant professor on the dance faculty at Drexel University, was invited to address the Jewish Reconstructionist congregation, Kol Tzedek ("voice of justice") at their recent Yom Kippur services in West Philadelphia. She spoke on the High Holy Day theme of nurturing and sustenance... important themes for artists and non-artists alike. This is a version of that talk.)
Tania Isaac fuses choreography with personal documentary and social
commentary and examines juxtapositions of cultural influences, resulting in dances that are
elegant and dramatic, yet highly accessible. An electric and commanding
performer, Isaac has been a member of David Dorfman Dance, Rennie Harris
Puremovement, Urban Bushwomen and is a current collaborator with Emily Johnson/Catalyst.
TaniaIsaacDance projects have been supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, The National Performance Network, The Independence Foundation among others. The company has performed and taught internationally and throughout the US from contemporary process driven workshops and composition to modern dance and Caribbean-infused technique classes.
Her publications explore the spectrum
of contemporary dance ranging from essays/commentary on functional
mechanics to comparative literary esthetics in performance. Her current
work is an exploration of creative method : the "Open Notebook" -
a way of turning a room into a laboratory of investigation and
participation in multiple forms. Initially developed during a
2006 residency at the Maggie Allesse national Center for Choreography, it continues to be an essential element of all her creative work.
"More than just a choreographer and dancer, the St. Lucian born Isaac is a luminous intellectual and provocative free spirit, elevating dance above physical movement and form, and even its inherent aesthetic beauty, by creating works that explore its social, cultural and political bases as well. Her pieces serve as an open dialogue between artist and audience, the seamless weaving of text, music and movement both a way into and out of the things that move us, frighten us, enliven us and even confound us. And all the while, even as she challenges, she is a study in lithe grace and dynamic athleticism, liquid fire and elemental strength."
Naila Francis (The Spirited Woman)