CFP: TANTS!: A Compendium of Yiddish Dance Resources

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CFP: TANTS!: A Compendium of Yiddish Dance Resources (Working Title)

Editors: Sonia Gollance and Avia Moore

Yiddish dance – sometimes referred to as East European Jewish dance, klezmer dance, or Jewish wedding dance – comprises a complex set of dance forms and practices. Dancer and tradition-bearer Michael Alpert points to the potential of Yiddish dance to function as a rich venue “for both social interaction and individual expression.” Yiddish dance plays a role in community settings as well as staged performances inspired by the culture of East European Jews. In her article “Tantsn is lebn,” LeeEllen Friedland explains that, in pre-war eastern Europe, dancing was “a central and very inspiring part of a wide range of social occasions…. It was considered a joyful endeavor capable of bringing pleasure to both performers and spectators” (1986). Writing about Yiddish dance in 1930, choreographer Nathan Vizonsky describes it as “extremely modernistic, but without modern coldness. It is the most gracious material for the revelation of the artistic personality” (trans. Karen Goodman).

Despite a recent resurgence of interest at Jewish culture festivals, Yiddish dance has existed on the margins of East European Jewish performance culture research. Friedland also remarks: “It is ironic that although the majority of Jews in North America are of East European heritage, this dance tradition is probably the one about which we know the least.” Although more research has been done on Yiddish dance since Friedland’s seminal article, Jewish dance research remains dominated by studies of American modern dance choreography and Israeli dance. A number of celebrated volumes have recently been published (see Gollance, Jackson/Pappas/Shapiro-Phim, Kosstrin, Rossen, Schwadron, Spiegel) in the emerging field of Jewish dance studies, however they have tended not to focus on the folk dance practices of Ashkenazic Jewry. Likewise, dance is addressed in many important studies of klezmer, but is primarily considered from an ethnomusicological perspective. To date, there has not yet been a book-length study of Yiddish dance.

This volume seeks to push back against some of the misconceptions surrounding Yiddish dance and expand our understanding of the art form. It is neither hermetically Jewish nor exclusively secular. It is a vehicle for cross-cultural encounter, intermediality, and embodied expression. New spaces for community dance, research methodologies, pedagogical contexts, and performance opportunities underscore the vitality of Yiddish dance and provide new opportunities for developing a holistic understanding of this cultural practice. 

In this volume, the first book dedicated to Yiddish dance, our aim is to consolidate available resources and offer a space for new insights. Our volume will include new scholarly, performative, and pedagogical approaches, interviews with practitioners, translations, previously published articles with brief introductory framing essays, and historical resources. We welcome the submission of any paper that intersects with these topics including specific Yiddish dance repertoire and choreography, cultural context for Ashkenazi dance practice, the role of dance in the klezmer revival, pedagogical approaches to Yiddish dance, equity and Yiddish dance contexts, the relationship between Yiddish dance and other art forms (including theatre, film, photography), the relationship between Yiddish and other folk dance forms, Hasidic dance, Yiddish dance on stage, Yiddish terms for dance and the body, etc. We also invite pieces that consider how particular individuals have informed the field, such as folk dance practitioners like Bronya Sakina and Ben Bazyler, as well as choreographers like Judith Berg, Felix Fibich, Nathan Vizonsky, Fred Berk, and Jerome Robbins. We are open to contributions that explore the core, transitional, co-territorial, and cosmopolitan repertoires – and beyond – as well as topics that defy easy categorization. We envision that this resource will bring together perspectives on praxis, pedagogy, and performance, placing them alongside the historical and theoretical material that forms the backdrop of Yiddish dance today. 

We anticipate including work of various lengths in this volume. We invite scholars
and dance practitioners to contribute, as it is intended to be a resource for both. 

Extended Deadline: Proposals should be emailed to the editors by October 31, 2022. Proposals should include an abstract (up to 500 words) of the proposed contribution as well as its approximate length, and a brief contributor bio. Finished articles should be submitted by May 31, 2023.

Prospective authors are welcome to be in touch with questions and ideas. Contact Avia Moore ( and Sonia Gollance (

The editorial team is Sonia Gollance ( and Avia Moore (