Studio Visits with Dancers, Not Sculptors

Image from Hayward Gallery’s 2010–11 exhibition, Move: Choreographing You.

While Jens Hoffmann was in Philadelphia to lecture at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in 2011, he made a few “studio” visits with local dance companies and answered our questions about the experience.

Is doing “studio” visits with dancers different from doing studio visits with artists?

Jens Hoffman: My knowledge of theater and dance, historical and contemporary, and my strong interest in these fields comes in handy when you do meetings with performing artists. I am not sure how other curators would handle this. It is often a matter of language, references, etc. For me there is little difference in having a conversation about an art work that is coming from the performing arts background oppose to coming from the world of fine arts, cinema, literature or even architecture. All fields are closer together at this point than they have ever been before and if one is interested in a number of fields, as I am, it is really easy to move around in the conversations and connect experiences and knowledge. Also, most of my theoretical interests can cover a lot of different fields.

Why do you think dancers want someone like you in their “studios”?

JH: There is a real desire in the performance art world to participate in the world of visual arts at the moment given the enormous success visual arts has had over the last decades and the money that is involved, specially when you manage to sell work in galleries. I think Tino [Sehgal] is a figure that people look at and think, if he manages to be in the art context why can I not since he is also choreographer but what they often forget is that Tino’s whole discourse is utterly based on elements form the visual arts and the context it has created, in a way you could describe him as a visual artist, who has achieved the dematerialization of the art object through introducing dance, singing and conversation to the gallery space. That is quite different then simply having dance presented inside a museum.

Grants & Grantees

Christopher Bursk is a poet and a 1995 Pew Fellow.

Artist Bob and Roberta Smith creates work in what he calls the “communicative realm,” from hand-painted slogans to social media campaigns.

Using the arts as a catalyst for community dialogue and engagement around race and class in Philadelphia’s diverse Germantown neighborhood, this multi-part project joins artists such as Benjamin Volta and poet Sonia Sanchez, and historians from across the US to create public art installations, educational programs, and community events.

Founded in 1969, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble seeks to preserve, present, and build upon the dance and music of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Dr. Kamella Tate is the owner/principal of KTA/LLC, a Los Angeles-based firm that provides research, program design, evaluation, and fund development services to community nonprofits in the arts, healthcare, and education sectors.


A performance-as-exhibition that reimagines the traditional retrospective, conceived by MacArthur Fellow Janine Antoni in collaboration with choreographer Anna Halprin and dance artist Stephen Petronio during a residency at The Fabric Workshop and Museum.

Grants & Grantees

Dancer, choreographer, and 2011 Pew Fellow Tania Isaac presented a performance installation in June 2013, at which audiences were encouraged to share their thoughts through photos, writing, and self-recordings.

Collaborators & Colleagues

John Corbett is a writer, musician, radio host, teacher, record producer, concert promoter, and, with co-owner Jim Dempsey, of Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery in Chicago.

Grants & Grantees

In 1994 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 34 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Since 2007, Helguera, a visual and performance artist, has served as director of adult and academic programs in the department of education at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Strange Currencies, this forum of independent contemporary art groups and spaces from around the country will explore what it means to be (and stay) “alternative.”

The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia opened to the public in 1954 and is located in the former home of brothers Philip and Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, international dealers in rare books, manuscripts, and fine and decorative arts.