Tania Isaac

2011 Pew Fellow

1/8: Tania Isaac, 2011 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
2/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.
3/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.
4/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.
5/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.
6/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.
7/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.
8/8: Tania Isaac performing in 2007.

“I am a dancer because I love language and a choreographer because I love conversations and an artist because I never run out of questions.”

Caribbean-American dancer-choreographer Tania Isaac (b. 1975) was named one of “25 to watch” by Dance Magazine in 2006, and her artistry has continued to blossom. She fuses choreography with personal documentary and social commentary and grapples with identity, post-colonial issues, feminism, and juxtapositions of European and African influences, resulting in dances that are elegant, dramatic, and highly accessible. An electric and commanding performer, Isaac earned an M.F.A. in dance from Temple University in 2000 and is an able scholar, having penned articles for publications such as Susanna Sloat’s anthology Making Caribbean Dance (University Press of Florida, 2010).

Her current work is a potentially groundbreaking exploration of creative method she calls the “Open Notebook”—a way of turning a room into a laboratory of investigation and participatory dance. “I fell in love with the idea that moving could be intellectual practice in itself,” says Isaac. “I enjoy the messy and exhausting process of bringing things to life.” Isaac developed the “Open Notebook” further as Crazy Beautiful, an installation at the Painted Bride Art Center in late 2012. For two weeks in December 2012, Isaac was in residence at the MacDowell Colony, with support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. She also was the first participant in Ain Gordon’s White Box Residencies project, conducted at the Center. Since receiving her Pew Fellowship, she has also become an assistant teaching professor of dance at Drexel University.


In this month’s Pew Fellows news, Justin Cronin’s book The City of Mirrors debuts at the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list, J.C. Todd wins the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, and we introduce 12 new Pew Fellows.

Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble released a video trailer for its Center-funded performance, Steppes: A Crossover, featuring the premiere of a piece by Mark Morris.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Anna Halprin is a pioneering choreographer whose work has led to a reconsideration of dance as an art form.

Grants & Grantees

Ally is a performance-as-exhibition, conceived by MacArthur Fellow Janine Antoni in collaboration with pioneering choreographer Anna Halprin and contemporary dance artist Stephen Petronio.

Collaborators & Colleagues

James Alan McPherson is the recipient of many national literary awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award.

Curators Marissa Perel and Brian Wallace give an overview of Trisha Brown’s work as it connects to the In the New Body performances at the Barnes Foundation.

Dedicated to supporting and promoting Latin American culture, Raices Culturales LatinoAmericanas produces a variety of community programs and cultural showcases.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents portrait of myself as my father, a dance work by Zimbabwean dancer Nora Chipaumire.

Grants & Grantees

In collaboration with Ars Nova Workshop, International House Philadelphia presented Tête-a-Tête, a series of duets showcasing experimental, improvisational, and exploratory contemporary music.

Grants & Grantees

Syd Carpenter is a sculptor and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

In order to examine the difficult topic of addiction and its consequences, Pushers uses celebrity culture as its lens, as a way to connect with West Philadelphia youth and encourage them to share their own experiences.

Grants & Grantees

In 1998 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 52 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.