Rebekah Kowal

Rebekah Kowal
Department DEO, Chair; Associate Professor; Graduate Advisor; IWP/MFA Concert Mentor
CMA, Laban/Bartenieff Institute; PhD, American Studies, New York University
E114 C

Rebekah Kowal teaches dance history and theory and serves as Chair of the Department of Dance. Her research investigates how moving bodies are compelling agents of social, cultural, and political change. A dancer and scholar, Kowal seeks to forge interdisciplinary connections between dance theory and practice. After completing a BA in English at Barnard College/Columbia University, she danced in New York City with Heidi Henderson, Molly Rabinowitz, Bryan Hayes, and Pat Cremmins. She holds a CMA from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute and a PhD in American Studies from NYU. Prior to joining the faculty at Iowa, she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Performance Studies at Haverford College.

Kowal has published widely in the fields of dance and performance studies. Her articles and reviews appear in Dance Research Journal, Dance Research, TDR, Performance Research, Dance Selected Research, Vol. 6, The Returns of Alwin Nikolais: Bodies, Boundaries and the Dance Canon (eds. Randy Martin and Claudia Gitelman), the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity (eds. Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young), and the Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics eds. Rebekah Kowal, Gerald Siegmund, and Randy Martin). She is co-editor with Gerald Siegmund and Randy Martin of The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Her current book project, Dancing the World Smaller: Staging the Global in Mid-Century America (forthcoming Oxford University Press) focuses on the production and reception of embodied articulations of globalism as a means of illuminating and understanding an expansion of the national worldview in which Americans, including dance artists and audiences, came to see themselves not in isolation from the world, but as global citizens. The book examines the cultural significance of international dance performances in New York City during the 1940s in the contexts of the city’s burgeoning multiculturalism and global prominence, on the one hand, and contemporaneous cultural debates over issues of national identity, immigration, race, ethnicity, heritage, and citizenship, on the other.

She has won awards for her scholarly research including the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) Outstanding Publication Award (2012 for How to Do Things with Dance), the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) Gertrude Lippincott Award (2008 for “Dance Travels: Walking with Pearl”), and a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend Award in 2012. In 2009, she received the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Scholar Award, recognizing her as the top newly tenured scholar in the arts and humanities.

Active in the professional field she has served as Book Reviews Editor for Dance Research Journal, on the CORD Editorial Board, as Vice President of the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS), and as Acting Vice President of Awards and Prizes of the Dance Studies Association (DSA). She is currently serving on the Editorial Board of Dance Research Journal.

Recent Publications:

Kowal, Rebekah J.
“Choreographing Interculturalism: International Dance Performance at the American Museum of Natural History, 1943-1952”
The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity (2016) eds. Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young

Kowal, Rebekah J.
“Indian Ballerinas Toe-Up: Maria Tallchief and Making Ballet ‘American’ in the Tribal Termination Era”
Dance Research Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Summer), pp. 73-96

Kowal, Rebekah J.
How to Do Things with Dance: Performing Change in Postwar America
Wesleyan University Press (2010)

Kowal, Rebekah J.
“Dance Travels: Walking with Pearl”
Performance Research, 12(2), June 2007, pp. 85-94

Kowal, Rebekah J.
"Alwin Nikolais' Queer Objectivity”
The Returns of Alwin Nikolais: Bodies, Boundaries and the Dance Canon, eds. Claudia Gitelman and Randy Martin
Wesleyan University Press (2007)

Kowal, Rebekah J.
"Staging the Greensboro Sit-Ins”
TDR: The Drama Review - Volume 48, Number 4 (T 184), Winter 2004, pp.135-154

Kowal, Rebekah J., Gerald Siegmund, and Randy Martin eds.
The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics