Bachtrack is asking the same six questions to many choreographers. Here’s what Pam Tanowitz had to say.

1. What influences are important to you and your choreography?

Pam Tanowitz © Brad Paris
Pam Tanowitz
© Brad Paris

Not only do I want to make dances, I want to understand how to make dances – I am most interested in a methodical re-working of formal elements, and within that I surround myself by contradictions, risk and failure – it all becomes part of the work – all the projects I have presented incorporate these ideas in one way or another.

2. What (if anything) do you want audiences to take away from your choreography?

Any opportunity to make something and have it be presented I am grateful for. The real question is maybe – do I admit to the idea that I am throwing a rough draft or maybe a second draft of the ideal dance that is in my head out into the world?

Pam Tanowitz Dance © Christopher Duggan
Pam Tanowitz Dance
© Christopher Duggan

3. Is there a piece of your choreography that you are most satisfied with? Why?

No, not really. I feel something important goes wrong in every work and I try to figure it out or react to it for the next work.

4. How important to your choreography is your relationship with the dancers who perform it?

Yes, these are intimate conversations – between me and the dancers, the dancers and the audience, and the audience and myself.

Pam Tanowitz Dance © Christopher Duggan
Pam Tanowitz Dance
© Christopher Duggan

5. When you’re creating a new piece, how and where do you begin? What do you enjoy most about the process?

Really all I enjoy is the process. The actual show is my least favorite thing.

6. How is making dance works changing? Where do you hope choreography will go in future?

I have no idea if its changing but I have to feel I am contributing to the field of dance in some way, or helping advance in the practice of this very difficult art form.

 

Pam Tanowitz Dance has consistently received commissions and residencies at venerable New York theaters including The Joyce Theater (2014)  New York Live Arts (2013), The Kitchen (2012), Dance Theater Workshop (2009), Danspace Project (2002, 2004, 2010), The Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process program (2001, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2015) and Baryshnikov Arts Center (2010, 2014).

Pam Tanowitz Dance © Christopher Duggan
Pam Tanowitz Dance
© Christopher Duggan

Tanowitz was awarded the prestigious Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University for 2013-2014. Tanowitz received a 2009 Bessie Award for the dance Be in the Gray With Me at Dance Theater Workshop. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011. Additional awards include two Joyce Theater Creative Residency grants, NYSCA, LMCC, Jerome Robbins Foundation, NYFA BUILD and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.

Tanowitz has collaborated with several illustrious dancers, including New York City Ballet Dancers and American Ballet Theater Dancers. She has made ballets for New York Theater Ballet and Saint Louis Ballet. Tanowitz has set her work on The Julliard School, Purchase Dance Corp, Marymount Manhattan College, and The Ohio State University. She was on faculty for American Ballet Theater, ABT/Bermuda and taught at Hunter College, American Dance Festival.

Tanowitz holds a BFA in Dance from the Ohio State University and an MFA in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was mentored by former Merce Cunningham principal dancer Viola Farber-Slayton. She also studied at the American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival and has studied choreography with Martha Myers and Dan Hurlin. In 2000, she founded Pam Tanowitz Dance, and has since made a significant contribution to the dance field and New York audiences.