Hiie Saumaa


Jerome Robbins: Choreographer on the Page

At the Institute, I will be working on my book on the unpublished writings of the choreographer, dancer, and director Jerome Robbins. Robbins’s ballets and Broadway shows are famous: less well known is the fact that he was also a prolific writer. I will show that for him, language and writing served an important role in how he approached choreography, creativity, and movement imagined in the mind’s eye. Investigating his writings and choreographic work, I ask, “Why and how did he write? What are his approaches to language and movement? How did his writings impact his dance compositions?” My book shows that Robbins turned to writing to develop and deepen his choreographic processes, experiment with diverse compositional methods, and create alternate means for artistic expression. He innovated not only in dance but he also animated readers’ understanding of the English language and the craft of writing. His writings shed light on what I call “the dancing mind”—the mind that imagines movement while reading—as well as what it is like to live one’s life artfully and creatively.

Hiie Saumaa (Ph.D.) is a writer, dancer scholar, and a movement educator. Her work explores interconnections between dance, movement imagination, and creativity. She is currently working on a project on the unpublished writings of the choreographer Jerome Robbins. Her articles have appeared in Dance Chronicle, Dance Research Journal, The Journal of Dance, Movement & Spiritualities, Somatics Magazine/Journal, and Alternative and Complementary Therapies. She has contributed to Sacred Dance Guild Journal, The Jerome Robbins Newsletter, Hybrid Pedagogy, and Movement Research Performance Journal. In 2017, Saumaa was a Dance Fellow at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. She has taught courses in writing, literature, and critical theory at Columbia University and New York University. As a certified instructor of Nia dance, The BodyLogos© Technique, and JourneyDance™, Saumaa teaches classes and workshops in sensory-based dance modalities, creative movement, expressive arts, meditative strength training, and somatic awareness.

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