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Selma Jeanne Cohen

Selma Jeanne Cohen

Selma Jeanne Cohen transformed the field of dance by giving critics and historians the language to discuss the nuances of performance and choreography.

Selma Jeanne Cohen, 1920 - 2005

Despite the difficulty of translating the evanescent nature of dance into words, Selma Jeanne Cohen believed that dance, as much as painting, music and literature, deserved a history of its own. She spent a lifetime creating the structures necessary to making the recording of that history possible.

Birth of dance scholar Selma Jeanne Cohen

September 18, 1920

Selma Jeanne Cohen, who sought to make dance scholarship a respected academic discipline, was born.

Selma Jeanne Cohen's "Encyclopedia of Dance"

July 26, 1998

The International Encyclopedia of Dance, edited by dance historian Selma Jeanne Cohen, was reviewed in the New York Times.

Selma Jeanne Cohen

It was Selma Jeanne Cohen’s mission in life to make dance scholarship a respected field, taking its place with the study of the other arts both in society and, particularly, the university. As a writer, editor, and teacher, she was a leader in transforming dance history, aesthetics, and criticism into respected disciplines. She encouraged and often trained those who are now working in these vital fields, so that dance is no longer viewed as mere entertainment, but is studied as a rich art on many levels, from the most elite to varieties of popular and folk expression, illuminating society in new and valuable ways. She was an internationalist, her Jewish heritage playing little part in her life or her approach to dance in the world. However, when being inducted into the Dance Library of Israel Hall of Fame in 2001, she spoke eloquently of her love of Israel and what it meant to her.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Selma Jeanne Cohen." (Viewed on October 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/18000>.

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