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Questions of Practice: Choreographer Maria Hassabi on Dancing in Museum Spaces

Audiences are accustomed to seeing dancers in a theater setting, and with that familiarity comes a set of assumptions about the nature of their relationship with the performers. In a museum, however, visitors may choose different ways to engage with a performance—and may even question whether the work they’re seeing qualifies as art at all. Choreographer Maria Hassabi discusses the unique challenges that emerge from this tension and how it can evoke new ways of moving and, for audiences, new ways of interpreting with the work.

Maria Hassabi is a Cyprus-born, New York-based artist and choreographer. In October 2018, she performed at the Barnes Foundation as part of the Center-funded Philadelphia Museum of Dance, a daylong event co-curated by French choreographer Boris Charmatz and presented by Drexel University Westphal College. In March 2019, Hassabi joined performance artist Jenn Joy in conversation on March 27 as part of the University of the Arts School of Dance’s “Knowing Dance More” series, presented in conjunction with The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s latest publication, The Sentient Archive: Bodies, Performance, and Memory. Hassabi’s performances and installations are presented worldwide in theaters, museums, galleries, and public spaces including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the 55th Venice Biennale, and documeta14 in Germany, among many others.