Symposium Description

Assembling perspectives from musicology, theater and performance studies, dance history and criticism, and cinema and media studies, “The Agon of Opera and Dance” aims to explore the conceptual and practical polarities of opera and dance. Through the cultivation of a meaningful dialogue between academics and practitioners, it is our hope that the symposium will bring new prominence to the question of this longstanding agon, launching a sophisticated and thorough inquiry into the confrontation and complementarity of opera and dance.

The two-day event will feature academic presentations by distinguished opera and dance scholars from around the country including Mary Ann Smart (University of California Berkeley), Rebecca Schneider (Brown University) and Timothy Scholl (Oberlin College and Conservatory); a lecture-demonstration by composer Barbara White (Princeton University) involving her one-act opera, Weakness, with choreography by Kate Weare; and a roundtable discussion of “choreographer’s opera” that examines the work of Trisha Brown, Pina Bausch, and Mark Morris, to be moderated by David J. Levin (University of Chicago; Co-Executive Editor, Opera Quarterly).

We are delighted to welcome as discussants for the symposium members of the editorial board of The Opera Quarterly including Alessandra Campana, Bonnie Gordon, Ryan Minor, Christopher Morris and Heather Wiebe. Dance scholars and critics Joan Acocella (The New Yorker Magazine), Lynn Garafola (Barnard College), Janice Ross (Stanford University), and Elizabeth Kendall (The New School) will serve as discussants, joined by a roster of Princeton faculty that includes Wendy Heller, Simon Morrison, Caryl Emerson, Peter Brooks, Serguei Alex Oushakine, Tina Fehlandt and Jeffrey Dolven.

The symposium will conclude on May 4 with two back-to-back performance events: a screening of the dance film “Baroque Suite” by Princeton composer Troy Herion, and a work-in-progress, “Structural Appropriation,” by Princeton Senior Lecturer in Dance and choreographer Rebecca Lazier in collaboration with dancers Silas Riener ’06, Cori Kresge, Pierre Guilbault, Christopher Ralph and Princeton composers Leila Adu, Cenk Ergun, Quinn Collins, and Jeff Synder. The piece attempts to give the independent forms (choreography, voice, music, and dancers) equal value and follows conditions appropriated from Terry Riley’s In C. (6:30pm, Lewis Center for the Arts, Hagan Dance Studio).

The events are free and open to the public, but registration is requested. Please register for the event by sending an email with your name, email and affiliation to

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