Susan Rethorst

30 Nov 2016


Susan Rethorst, 2014 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Susan Rethorst. Photo by JJ Tiziou.


Rehearsal for Then by Group Motion Dance Company and Susan Rethorst. Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou.


Rehearsal for Then by Group Motion Dance Company and Susan Rethorst. Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou.

"The world doesn't need me to make a dance. I need to make things."

Susan Rethorst (b. 1951) is an internationally renowned choreographer and teacher of choreography. Her work is process-based, beginning with premises of space and people, rather than a formal framework. Rethorst also infuses emotion and character into her choreography by inviting and accepting moments of serendipity throughout the development of each piece. "[My work] has a cinematic sense that 'something happens,'" says Rethorst. "I work not from the thematic or from theory or any other 'aboutness,' but rather a trust in the body's mind." Rethorst's work has been presented at major venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, Dance Theater Workshop, and Danspace Project. In 2013, her work was the subject of a Center-funded retrospective at Bryn Mawr College, Susan Rethorst: Inquiring Mind/Choreographic Mind. Her past honors include the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts' Grants to Artists Award, and a "Bessie" New York Dance and Performance Award for Choreography, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

In March 2013, Rethorst engaged in a conversation with fellow choreographer Bill T. Jones, moderated by Lois Welk, director of Dance/USA Philadelphia, and organized and produced by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The two dancer-choreographers, who are the same age, discussed their distinct practices and the evolution of the field.