Lynn Garafola is a prominent dance historian, critic, and frequent commentator on dance for The Nation magazine and numerous other periodicals. Noted dance critic Marcia Siegel has written of Garafola, “I do not know of another dance historian with the courage and the sophistication to bypass the adulatory discourse that protects the dance field from investigative research.”
Early life and career
Garafola was born in New York City, attended Hunter College High School and Barnard College, and graduated in 1968. She received a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from the City University of New York in 1985. Since 2000, she has taught at Barnard College, where she is currently Professor of Dance.
Garafola was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute (formerly the Getty Center for the History of Arts and the Humanities) in 1991-92, and has held Fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2005, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Writing about dance
Garafola’s works, which include books, essays, book reviews, edited volumes, catalogue entries, and translations, have redefined the field of dance history, bringing modern research methods and modes of interpretation to subjects ranging from the romantic ballerina to the New York City Ballet. Her first book, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which received the De la Torre Bueno Prize, is recognized as the finest study of a company that played a critical role in the development of twentieth-century dance. In The New Republic, Richard Taruskin praised the book’s “breathtaking array of new documentary materials,” adding, “it is a breakthrough, an epoch-maker.”
Subsequent books include André Levinson on Dance (editor, with Joan Acocella, 1991); The Diaries of Marius Petipa (translator and editor, 1992); José Limón: An Unfinished Memoir (editor, 1998) [winner of the Award for Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication from the Congress on Research in Dance]; Rethinking the Sylph: New Perspectives on the Romantic Ballet (editor, 1997); The Ballet Russes and Its World (editor, with Nancy Van Norman Baer, 1999) [winner of the Kurt Weill Book Prize]; and Legacies of Twentieth-Century Dance (2005). Between 1991 and 1998 Garafola served as editor of the monograph series, Studies in Dance History, for the Society of Dance History Scholars. Her current work focuses on the life and work of the choreographer Bronislava Nijinska.
Garafola is an active public intellectual in areas related to dance and its history. She has presented numerous lectures to audiences in the United States and abroad, and has been curator of several museum exhibitions, among them "Dance for a City: Fifty Years of the New York City Ballet" (New-York Historical Society, 1999), and three recent exhibits at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: "500 years of Italian Dance" (2006–07); "New York Story: Jerome Robbins and His World" (2008); and "Diaghilev’s Theater of Marvels" (2009). New York Times reviewer Anna Kisselgoff described "Dance for a City" as an "intelligent chronological sequence and an imaginative installation," although she criticized certain interpretive aspects of the installation. In May 2009, Garafola organized a major symposium on Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe as part of a city-wide cultural festival in Boston. She has also contributed to and collaborated on multiple other smaller exhibitions and presentations related to dance and its history, such as "America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100" presented by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in 2005.
Lynn Garafola is married to the historian Eric Foner. They have one daughter.
- Garafola, Lynn. "Author Bios". The Nation magazine. The Nation. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- Siegel, Marcia (Summer–Winter 2006). "Review of Legacies of Twentieth-Century Dance". Dance Research Journal 38: 186–188. Check date values in:
- "Faculty Bio". Columbia University Department of History. Columbia University. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- Taruskin, Richard (9 October 1989). The New Republic: 27.
- "Lynn Garafola". Faculty Experts. Barnard College. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- Kisselgoff, Anna (30 April 1999). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Distilling The Dance Of Time". New York Times (New York Times Company). Retrieved 10/8/2011. Check date values in:
- Garafola, Lynn. "BALLETS RUSSES 2009 ANNOUNCES SYMPOSIUM The Spirit of Diaghilev May 19–21, 2009". BALLETS RUSSES 2009 ANNOUNCES SYMPOSIUM. Ballets Russes. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- Rockwell, John (22 June 2005). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Riches of American Dance in Tangible Form". The New York Times (New York Times Company). Retrieved 2011-08-08.