Rebecca Rossen

Learn about dance historian and performance scholar Rebecca Rossen

Associate Professor, Performance as Public Practice

Rebecca Rossen (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is a dance historian and performance scholar whose research focuses on the aesthetic, cultural, historical and political meanings and impacts of dance and physical performance, as well as the interrelationships between performance, embodiment, site, memory and history. Her research engages the fields of dance studies, performance studies, performance-as-research, American studies, ethnic studies, feminist studies, Holocaust studies, Jewish studies and memory and trauma studies. Dr. Rossen teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses that converge these fields. She is a winner of the 2015 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award and a recipient of Teaching Excellence Awards from the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Center for Women's and Gender Studies. From 2015 to 2018 she led the Society of Dance History Scholars’ Editorial Board and served as editor of the Studies in Dance History book series.

Dr. Rossen’s first book, Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance (Oxford University Press 2014) was a winner of the Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research. She has published scholarly articles in Theatre JournalTDR: The Drama ReviewFeminist Studies and The Opera Quarterly; her public scholarship has appeared in Dance Teacher MagazineThe Forward and Sightlines. Her writing has also been published in anthologies including "You Should See Yourself": Jewish Identity in Postmodern American Culture (2006),The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity (2016) and The Oxford Handbook of Jewishness and Dance (2021). Her current book focuses on representations of the Holocaust, memory, history and trauma in contemporary dance. She is a recipient of a 2023 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, as well as two NEH summer grants, a UT Provost’s Authors Fellowship and a Rapoport Fellowship from the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. 

As a dancer, Dr. Rossen performed with numerous companies including the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Hedwig Dances and the Cook County Theatre Department. Her choreography has been presented in venues throughout her hometown of Chicago, as well as in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Israel. She was also the co-founder and co-director of Chicago’s first fringe dance festival, the Movable Beast, from 1998-2000. Prior to joining the university's faculty, Dr. Rossen taught at the University of Chicago, George Mason University, the Dance Center of Columbia College and many Chicago-area dance studios. 

Dr. Rossen is a faculty affiliate in Women's and Gender Studies, Jewish Studies and American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

dancing header rossen

Dance history, dance studies, performance studies, performance-as-research methodologies, American studies, ethnic studies, feminist studies, Holocaust studies, Jewish studies, memory and trauma studies, site specific performance

Dance History I and II, Dancing America, Gender and Sexuality in Performance, Narrative in Physical Performance, Jewish Identity in American Performance, Holocaust Representation and Performance, Performance as Public Practice, Performance as Research, Supervised Teaching in Theatre and Dance


Rossen, Rebecca. Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Articles and Chapters

Rossen, Rebecca (forthcoming) “Bodily Transfiguration and Transgenerational Trauma in the Art of Yuliya Lanina.”  Feminist Studies (forthcoming).

Rossen, Rebecca (forthcoming). “The Beast Within and Without: The Movable Beast Dance Festival and Chicago Experimental Dance in the 1990s.” Dancing on the Third Coast: Dance History in Chicago. Susan Manning, ed.

Rossen, Rebecca (2021). “Excavating Holocaust History: Site, Memory, and Community in Tamar Rogoff’s Ivye Project.”Oxford Handbook of Jewishness and Dance. Naomi Jackson, ed. New York and London: Oxford University Press. 550–64.

Rossen, Rebecca (2016). “Dancing Jews and Jewesses: Jewishness, Ethnicity, and Exoticism in American Dance.” The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity. Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young, eds. New York and London: Oxford University Press. 66–90. 

Rossen, Rebecca (2012). Jews on View: Spectacle, Degradation, and Jewish Corporeality in Contemporary Dance and Performance.” Theatre Journal 64, 1 (March 2012): 59–78.

Rossen, Rebecca (2011). “Uneasy Duets: Contemporary American Dances about Israel and the Mideast Crisis,” TDR: The Drama Review 55, 3 (Fall 2011), 40–49.

Rossen, Rebecca (2011). “Hasidic Drag: Jewishness and Transvestitism in the Modern Dances of Pauline Koner and Hadassah,” Feminist Studies 37, 2 (summer 2011): 334–64.

Rossen, Rebecca (2006). “The Jewish Man and His Dancing Shtick: Stock Characterization and Jewish Masculinity in Postmodern Dance.” You Should See Yourself: Jewish Identity in Postmodern American Culture. Vincent Brook, ed. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press. 137–54.

Contact Information


Campus location
WIN 2.166