Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Choreography
Competition: US & Canada
Tamar Rogoff is a choreographer who explores the outer limits of how people negotiate extreme circumstances. She invites into her work cast members who step out of their traditional roles, often going against type, to be uniquely represented in her pieces. Ms. Rogoff’s large-scale site-works, films, and more traditional proscenium performances house her lifelong experimental process to search for balance in the ungainly positions in which she finds herself. She combines and juxtaposes unlikely company members, always on the look out for magical and tender ways to tell difficult stories. In the 1980s most of her work took place at P.S.122. Work was produced by Lincoln Center, Dancing in the Streets, and Creative Time/Art on the Beach. Angle of Ascent was performed on a tower rising twenty-five feet above the plaza in Lincoln Center, while huge water tanks were built there for In Deep. The Ivye Project (1994) took place in a forest in Belarus, surrounding the mass graves of Rogoff’s relatives and others killed in the Holocaust. This later became the subject of the documentary made by Rogoff and Daisy Wright called Summer in Ivye, which was screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Demeter’s Daughter, another large-scale site-work performed on the streets of the lower East Side, used gardens, rooftops, and an abandoned schoolyard. The cast included local teenagers from a drug treatment center, the local UPS man, recent graduates of New York University, and seasoned performers. Ms. Rogoff’s proscenium piece, Daughter of a Pacifist Soldier, was based on the year-long relationship between her company and a community of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2005, she choreographed a solo dance piece at P.S.122 for actress Claire Danes entitled Christina Olson: American Model. In 2007, she choreographed Edith & Jenny, an interdisciplinary work for Danes and Ariel Flavin.
Tamar Rogoff has taught for many years at P.S. 122 and at NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing. Six years ago, she founded the arts program at Solar1, an environmental education and arts center, where she is currently artistic director. Ms. Rogoff has worked in prisons and psychiatric hospitals for over twenty years doing arts workshops. She is a four-time recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been generously funded and commissioned by Dancing in the Streets, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Rockefeller MAP Grant, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Harkness Foundation, New York Theater Workshop’s Suitcase Fund, and VSA Arts.
In her latest piece, Anatomy Theatre Ms. Rogoff explores her deepening interest in the cross-over between Art and Science. At its core, the piece will reflect the passion and respect she has for individuals whose expertise is literally in their bodies. The criteria which brings her performers to the stage is the extraordinary degree to which they have pushed their own body potential, and with their involvement in this project, the wish to go even further. The unlikely casting of a world-class surgeon, Dr. Philip Bauman, a consummate dancer, Emily Pope-Blackman, and an actor with cerebral palsy, Gregg Mozgala challenges Ms. Rogoff to find a choreographic language and compositional through-line that honors their particular bodies’ intelligences. Partnering, the performers will often be at each other’s mercy. Their expertise as well as their humanity will be tested as Ms. Rogoff works with them to create a fully realized performance.
December 2009 will bring Anatomy Theatre to LaMama, ETC. for three weeks of performance followed by runs at the Kennedy Center and Middlebury College. With her Guggenheim Fellowship, Tamar Rogoff plans to make a feature documentary that follows the year-long training and rehearsal process as it takes company member Gregg Mozgala from the studio to the stage.