Questions of Practice: Writer and Dancer Wendy Perron on the Meaning of “Contemporary”

We asked writer and dancer Wendy Perron to discuss the meaning of “contemporary” in dance. Evoking Trisha Brown’s choreographic practice, Perron responded, “contemporary dance opens up the meanings” and “allows that we each come to a performance with our own life and our own way of perceiving.”

Writer and dancer Wendy Perron on the meaning of “contemporary”. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on October 13, 2015.

With Center support, Bryn Mawr College presented Trisha Brown: In the New Body, a yearlong retrospective, which culminated in June of 2016 with the Pennsylvania Ballet’s US premiere of Brown’s ballet O zlozony/O composite.


Wendy Perron is a writer, dancer, choreographer, and editor-at-large of Dance Magazine. Perron is a former member of the Trisha Brown Company, and her own group, the Wendy Perron Dance Company, appeared at the Lincoln Center Festival, The Joyce Theater, Danspace Project, and other venues in the US and abroad from 1983-97. Perron is the author of Through the Eyes of a Dancer, and has contributed reviews and features to publications including The New York Times, Village Voice, Ballet Review, and Dance Magazine.


Patricia Lent of the Merce Cunningham Trust, theater-maker Richard Schechner, and video/installation artist Sharon Hayes gather to discuss the question of reenactment in cultural practice, with UC Berkeley professor Shannon Jackson as moderator.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Lynne Ireland is deputy director at the Nebraska State Historical Society, and is the former chair of the Council of the American Association for State and Local History.

Founded in 1986, Sruti promotes and presents Indian classical music and dance to educate the greater Philadelphia community on the importance of Indian arts.

Leeway Foundation Executive Director Denise Brown leads a conversation with performance artist, director, and Re- Place-ing Philadelphia leader Marty Pottenger.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Pamela Green is executive director of the Weeksville Heritage Center, a unique and historic African-American preservation and education organization.

In the fall of 2011, Pig Iron Theatre Company embarked on a new chapter in its history as an experimental theater collaborative, launching the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.

Grants & Grantees

Tomah uses traditional folk songs of compassion, trust, and reconciliation to generate collective strength and foster dialogue about critical issues facing Liberian immigrant communities.

Grants & Grantees

A performance and newly commissioned album-length musical composition by Jace Clayton will take its inspiration from the artwork and record collection of Albert Barnes—including a recording which is credited with introducing African American spirituals to the wider world—offering audiences a way to reconnect with and to reimagine the Barnes Foundation collection through sound.

Leah Stein Dance Company conducted on a year of research and training with electronic music pioneer Pauline Oliveros, who coined the practice of “Deep Listening.”

Montgomery County Community College presented this four-concert series featuring Grammy Award winner David Sanchez, Paquito D’Rivera, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and Marlon Simon.

Grants & Grantees

Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre creates performance with a focus on devised work that often includes forays into pop culture, political satire, and the human condition.

In Terms of Performance features essays and interviews from more than 50 prominent artists, curators, presenters, and scholars who reflect on common yet contested terms in contemporary cultural practice.