Susan Rethorst

2014 Pew Fellow

1/5: Susan Rethorst, 2014 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/5: Susan Rethorst. Photo by JJ Tiziou.
3/5: Rehearsal for Then by Group Motion Dance Company and Susan Rethorst. Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou.
4/5: Rehearsal for Then by Group Motion Dance Company and Susan Rethorst. Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou.
5/5: Susan Rethorst’s Little by Little, 1995. Photo by Dona Ann McAdams.

“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.


A number of Center-supported performances take the stage this summer, including seven new musical commissions by The Crossing and the world premiere of Pablo Batista’s music and dance production El Viaje (The Journey).

Part performance, part discussion, and part party, these events invite attendees to discuss the project’s improvisational practice.

Grants & Grantees

Annenberg Center Live presented Basil Twist’s Petrushka and held workshops for local puppeteers, which included a tour of Twist’s studio.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Rajendra Roy joined the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art as Chief Curator in July 2007, overseeing the museum’s film collection, and their preservation and exhibition efforts. Roy served as a Pew Fellowships panelist in 2015.

The New Year will bring ambitious and innovative Center-funded projects to the Philadelphia region that will inspire audiences and push the boundaries of artistic discovery and expression.

We asked Center colleagues, interlocutors, grantees, and staff: “What inspired you this year?”

How might a world-famous art collection inform a new piece of music? MacArthur award-winning saxophonist and composer Ken Vandermark shares his thoughts.

Grants & Grantees

Rudolf Staffel (1911–2002) was a ceramist and a 1996 Pew Fellow.

In this collaboration, Meredith Rainey researched and developed a new work that explored perception through the vehicle of the famous Rorschach test.

At the February launch of the Center’s new multimedia online publication, A Steady Pulse: Restaging Lucinda Childs, 1963–78, Lucinda Childs and Judy Hussie-Taylor, executive director of Danspace Project, discussed Childs’ career and artistic influences.

FringeArts co-commissioned and presented this world premiere based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel and created by New York-based company Elevator Repair Service.

Collaborators & Colleagues

C. Spencer Yeh is recognized for his interdisciplinary activities and collaborations as an artist and composer, as well as his music project Burning Star Core. Yeh served as an LOI panelist in Performance in 2015.