danceworkbook: Braiding / Unbraiding / Rebraiding with Headlong Dance Theater and Tere O’Connor

Screencap from “Braiding / Unbraiding / Rebraiding” with Headlong Dance Theater and Tere O’Connor, the first iteration of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s danceworkbook series. Site design by Andy Owens.

Danceworkbook, a series produced by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, documents the creative practice of living and working with dance.

“Dance leads a journey away from language, not against it, and the experience of watching a work parallels that of making it.” —Tere O’Connor

In the first iteration of danceworkbook, Braiding / Unbraiding / Rebraiding, Philadelphia’s Headlong Dance Theater examined artistic process in collaboration with Tere O’Connor, director of Tere O’Connor Dance in New York City. Headlong invited O’Connor, an innovator in the field of sustained dialogue, to join them over the course of four months in 2007, for rehearsals, workshops, and discussion. This was part of Headlong’s continuing efforts to challenge its members and remain porous about the creative process.

Screencap from “Braiding / Unbraiding / Rebraiding” with Headlong Dance Theater and Tere O’Connor, the first iteration of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s Danceworkbook series. Site design by Andy Owens.


O’Connor brought new strategies to Headlong’s dance studio; he asked the three directors—Amy Smith, Andrew Simonet, and David Brick—to work independently from the start. With this radical alteration to their usual practice, and without the pressure of needing to produce a finished dance, this dedicated time became a research laboratory. The conversations that resulted extended beyond the studio to become part of the participants’ woven lives.

Visit the Braiding / Unbraiding / Rebraiding danceworkbook page >

See all iterations of the Center’s danceworkbook series >

Brenda Dixon Gottschild completed research and writing for her book, which tells the story of Joan Myers Brown and the previously unwritten 20th-century dance history of black Philadelphia.

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.

Dancing Diplomats follows choreographer Taras Lewyckyj’s work with Ukrainian artist Anatoly Kryvochyzha, whose choreography was blacklisted by the USSR in 1977.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Dr. Emil Kang serves as executive director for the arts at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a post created in 2005 to help unify and elevate the performing arts at the university.

On Monday, June 15, 2015, we announced and honored the 2015 grantees of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage with a celebration at the Curtis Institute of Music.

The Painted Bride Art Center commissioned an evening-length work by choreographer Cynthia Oliver, who also participated in a weeklong residency of workshops and film screenings.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, BalletX unites distinguished choreographers with a company of world-class dancers to “forge new works of athleticism, emotion, and grace.”

Grants & Grantees

Group Motion, Philadelphia’s oldest contemporary dance company, commissioned choreographer Susan Rethorst to create a new work for its dancers.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Christopher Williams is a dancer, choreographer, and puppeteer who has crafted and performed choreographic works in New York City and abroad.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Kathleen Forde is an independent curator based in New York City and Istanbul and the artistic director at large for Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul.

Questions of Practice

Dance scholar Linda Caruso Haviland shares her thoughts on restaging, reconstruction, reenactment, and reconstruction in dance.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Bebe Miller, the artistic director of Bebe Miller Dance Company in Columbus, Ohio, investigates a mix of text, performance, and visual presentation.