Fueled by her experience performing ballet repertory and modern dance masterworks, Deborah developed a deep passion for dance history. Her interests span a wide range of topics, but whenever possible, she conducts her inquiries with a unique approach that pairs traditional research methodologies with embodiment.
While at Brown University, Deborah received two Undergraduate Teaching and Research Assistantships to study the influence of Jewish culture on American modern dance, and she crafted an independent major, Modern Dance and the Immigrant Experience. Deborah wrote her honors thesis on the contributions of choreographers born to Eastern European Jewish immigrants. She was selected to present her research on modern dance pioneer Helen Tamiris as a Brown University Resource Scholar and Artist in spring 2003.
Before starting her graduate work at The Ohio State University (OSU), Deborah embarked on a project to identify the contents of recently recovered color footage from the 1938 Bennington School of the Dance, conducting interviews with over 25 dancers, choreographers, and scholars. She presented her findings at the 2004 National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and American Dance Guild conferences and won second place in the arts at OSU’s 2005 Hayes Graduate Research Forum. Deborah’s work with this extraordinary footage strongly influenced her MFA thesis on individualism and collectivism in 1930s modern dance, and she received OSU’s Presidential Fellowship to support her work on this project during the 2005-2006 academic year. Her thesis was informed not only by archival research and interviews but by her experience directing three dances from the era from Labanotation score: an excerpt from Helen Tamiris’s How Long Brethren?, Doris Humphrey’s “Variations and Conclusion” from New Dance, and Humphrey’s Quasi Waltz, which Deborah also performed.
Since 2001, Deborah has served as a researcher and writer for the American Dance Legacy Institute. She wrote eight segments of the Institute’s Dancing Rebels, a series of short biographies of New Dance Group members, and she participated in their Dancing Rebels conference, held in conjunction with the National Museum of Dance’s 2005 exhibit of the same name. Based on her research and study of Israeli folk dance, she arranged the Village Etude, inspired by Sophie Maslow’s The Village I Knew (1950), for the Institute’s Repertory Etudes™ Collection.
As a freelance dance scholar, Deborah has collaborated with choreographer Dianne McIntyre on archival projects, and she gained further experience in preservation by organizing the Dance Notation Bureau Extension’s archives and compiling databases of the Extension’s past activities while a Graduate Associate at OSU. She also designed the dance history trivia section of choreographer Boris Willis’s live-action video game Abandoned Revolution (2006).
In 2007-2008, Deborah researched Israeli contemporary dance thanks to a Fulbright grant funded by the U.S.-Israel Educational Foundation and hosted by the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD). Throughout her Fulbright year, she blogged on The Winger and podcasted interviews with Israeli dance professionals on Israel Seen. Her writing has subsequently been published in Dance Magazine, the Forward, and The Jerusalem Post. She has continued her research since immigrating to Israel in September 2008.
To follow Deborah’s research and writing, please visit her online magazine, Dance In Israel.