#WomanOfInterest – Deborah Jowitt
September 7th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
World-known dance lover and critic, Deborah Jowitt began her impressive career on the same floor most dancers know and love. With works published in prestigious papers like the New York Timesand Village Voice, Jowitt has taken her vast knowledge and constructive criticism on dance to create a strong impact in both the journalism and dance community.
Born Into The Arts
Born on February 8, 1938 in Los Angeles, California, Jowitt was quickly introduced to the art of dance from a young age. Her training as a young girl and deep-rooted interest in the world of arts and description of physical and mental emotion took her down the path of professional dance. In 1953, Jowitt explored the invigorating emotions that have found their root in dance and shed light on them by creating her own choreography.
With ten years of professional dance experience and an investment into her own choreography, Jowitt began her pursuit of sharing her interpretation of the art to the world. Jowitt worked alongside dance legends like Doris Humphrey, Anna Sokolow, and Sophie Maslow. In the 1960s, she began showcasing her own choreography with the Dance Theater Workshop while performing with colleagues like Jeff Duncan and Art Bauman. Her name was placed in the spotlight in the dance industry as her choreography turned heads and dance ability impressed widespread audiences.
Turning Movements Into Words
While it was simple for Jowitt to showcase her moves to other dancers and previous mentors, Jowitt wished to take her profession a step further by following the path of another creative art: writing. With strong professional experience backing up her riveting explanations of the art she was so personally enamored with, Jowitt was able to quickly transform her movements into words in a regular dance column for the Village Voice. Starting in 1967, Jowitt provided readers with frequent reviews of dance performances in New York City with detailed descriptions of the way a dancer could properly perform so that those outside of the dance community would find both relatability and credibility in her writing. Her writing was quickly picked up on by dancers looking to improve their talents and impressionable artists looking to hone-in on their own emotions and set of skills to present their art to the world.
A Staple In The Industry
Jowitt’s reviews quickly became a staple of not only American journalism, but the art of dance as a whole as words were able to mimic the movements presented on stage while putting potential stars in the spotlight with praise from an expert in the field. Dancers and journalists alike looked up to Jowitt as a role model for a sense of self-expression and vivid description for the art of dance and modern journalism. Her popularity soared so much that from the 1970s to 1994, the Village Voice had a page and a half reserved solely for dance coverage. Jowitt would write 1600 words week after week, including the occasional feature, so that readers and fans of dance alike could become more and more invested into the creative worlds of writing and dancing.
Throughout her career, Jowitt’s work has been published across multiple prestigious platforms like the New York Times, Dance Magazine, Dance Research Journal,and more. Along with that, Jowitt has published her own collections including, Dance Beat, The Dance in Mind, and Dancing Imagewhich won the de la Torre Bueno Prize in 1988.
After all of this success and her massive imprint on the world of dance and journalism, Jowitt took her passion a step further by becoming a faculty member at the Tisch School of Arts in New York. She continues to present as a keynote speaker to multiple stages in the dance and journalism communities while still posting her own reviews on online platforms for the world to see and learn from her own legacy. Jowitt is proof that creativity does not have to be held to only one outlet but can be expressed across a variety of arts for the world to become enamored by.
Casey Eggers is a writer for StarQuest. She loves coffee, music, and running long distance.
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