Skip to main content

Update browser for a secure experience

It looks like you may be using a web browser version that we don't support. Make sure you're using the most recent version of your browser, or try using of these supported browsers, to get the full experience: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

New Work

New Work



Pam Tanowitz


Jessie Montgomery

Pam Tanowitz is quick-witted and rigorous. The New York-based choreographer and collaborator has steadily delineated her own dance language through decades of research and creation. Charmingly cheeky, the 2020 Doris Duke Artist redefines tradition through careful examination, subtly questioning those who came before her yet never yielding to perceptions stuck in the past. And now, the world’s most respected companies—The Martha Graham Dance Company, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, among others—are proudly integrating Tanowitz’s poetic universe into their repertories.

Tanowitz’s combination of intentional unpredictability, whimsical complexity and natural drama evoke master dance makers from Merce Cunningham to George Balanchine through the clever weaving of movement, music and space. Her “sublime dance theater of the highest caliber” avoids narrative while audiences are instead “taken, poetically, through planes of existence” (The New York Times).

Tanowitz holds degrees from Ohio State University and Sarah Lawrence College, where she clarified her creative voice under former Cunningham dancer and choreographer Viola Farber. After attaining her MFA, Tanowitz moved to New York City to begin her professional career. She immersed herself in dance by working in administration at the New York City Center, splitting her time off by studying the Center’s archived dance videos or developing her own work in their studios.  In 2000, she founded Pam Tanowitz Dance (PTD) to explore dance-making with a consistent community of dancers. She has since been commissioned by The Joyce Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Vail Dance Festival, and many other leading arts institutions, and has received numerous honors and fellowships from organizations ranging from the Bessie Awards, The Guggenheim Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Princeton University, among others.

When awarding Tanowitz the 2017 BAC Cage Cunningham Fellowship, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the center’s artistic director, described her interrogative approach to choreography as “a distinct intellectual journey.” Her dances have been called a “rare achievement” (The New York Times) and her 2018 work for PTD, Four Quartets, inspired by T.S. Eliot’s literary masterpiece and set to music by Kaija Saariaho, was called “the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century” (The New York Times). In 2019, in addition to receiving the Herb Alpert Award, Tanowitz was named the first-ever choreographer in residence at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

Tanowitz’s meticulous years of study have resulted in a non-nostalgic dance dialogue with her own artistic antecedents. But it is not only dance history that colors her choreographic palate. With the same curiosity and intellectual exchange, Tanowitz engages directly with her dancers in the studio. She asks questions and assigns tasks. Her “no steps are off limits” approach encourages the dancers’ own input, which allows an intimate complicity to take place on stage. Of her “gloriously rich” premiere at the Royal Ballet, The New York Times described the dancers as “dancing for and with one another,” and the audience “lucky to be watching” such a tender rapport.

Tanowitz’s resourceful creativity allows her pieces to develop in real-time. Masked contemporary references peak out among traditional movement turned on its side, creating subtle accessibility in the best way possible. Her reconstruction of deconstructed classical and modern dance renders her work uncannily familiar while being entirely brand-new. With a toolbox filled by the present and past, Tanowitz is making dances for the 21st century.”

Program Credits

Choreography by Pam Tanowitz

Music by Jessie Montgomery