Siegel, Marcia B. 1932-

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Siegel, Marcia B. 1932-


Born September 17, 1932, in New York, NY; daughter of Abraham (a journalist) and Lillian Bernstein. Education: Connecticut College, B.A., 1954.


Home—New York, NY.


Eagle-Tribune, Lawrence, MA, reporter, 1959-61; Metal Center News (magazine), New York City, editorial assistant, 1961; Connecticut College, Office of Press Relations, New London, assistant, 1962-63; Clark Center for the Performing Arts, New York City, registrar, 1963-64; Library of Recorded Masterpieces, New York City, office manager, 1964-66; Dance Scope (magazine), founder/editor, 1964-66; Arts in Society (magazine), New York City, dance consultant, 1967-76; Hudson Review, dance critic and contributing editor, 1971—; Soho Weekly News, dance critic, 1974-82; New York University, associate professor of performance studies, 1983-99; Boston Phoenix, dance critic, 1996—. Director and member of faculty, West Coast Institute for Dance Criticism at California State University at Long Beach, and Mills College, 1972-75, and Texas Institute for Dance Criticism, 1976-78. Visiting teacher and lecturer of dance criticism at workshops and seminars in Israel, England, the United States, and throughout Europe; visiting teacher and critic at Ohio State University, 1973, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1975-76, Sarah Lawrence College, 1977-79, New York University, 1979, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 1980, University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, 1980-81, Manhattanville College, 1982. Guest teacher, Copenhagen University, Finnish Theatre Academy (Helsinki), both 1991. Association of American Dance Companies, board of directors, 1966-69; Dance Critics Association, board of directors, 1978-80; Laban Institute of Movement Studies, advisory council.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Guggenheim Memorial fellowship, 1974-75; Japan Foundation fellowship, 1978; Ingram Merrill foundation grant, 1982, for completion of Days on Earth: The Dance of Doris Humphrey; challenge grant, New York University Humanities Council for Curriculum Development, 1985; discretionary grant, Asian Cultural Council, 1989, for travel in Indonesia; Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research Award, Congress on Research in Dance (CORD), 2005.


At the Vanishing Point, Saturday Review Press (New York, NY), 1972.

Please Run on the Playground, Connecticut Commission on the Arts (Hartford, CT), 1975.

Watching the Dance Go By, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1977.

Two American Dance Classics, Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, NY), 1978.

The Shapes of Change: Images of American Dance, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1979.

Then—The Early Years of Modern Dance (play), first produced in Salt Lake City, UT, at Repertory Dance Theatre, 1980.

Days on Earth: The Dance of Doris Humphrey, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1987, new edition, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1993.

The Tail of the Dragon: New Dance, 1976-1982, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1991.

Howling near Heaven: Twyla Tharp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Editor of Dancer's Notes, 1969, and Nik: A Documentary, Dance Perspectives Foundation, 1971. Contributor of articles and reviews to a variety of journals, including Art in Society, American Poetry Review, American Theatre, Ballet News, Ballet International, Ballet Review, Dance, Dance Ink, Dance Research Journal, Dial, Harpers, Kenyon Review, New York, New York Press, T.D.R., Time Out, and U.S. Information Agency, in addition to the Washington Post and other newspapers.


"A critic of dance is in some ways a self-appointed historian," wrote Marcia B. Siegel in The Shapes of Change: Images of American Dance. In this study of the growth of distinctively American choreography spanning the past seventy-five years, Ms. Siegel balances her role as noted dance critic with that of historian and provides a valuable record of dance literature.

In Howling near Heaven: Twyla Tharp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance, dance critic Marcia B. Siegel tells the story of the career of one of the greatest of her contemporaries: the choreographer Twyla Tharp. "Tharp and critic Marcia Siegel began their respective careers in the late 1960s at the legendary Judson Church programs in New York City," explained Leland Windreich in Ballet˜Dance. "Tharp performed her unconventional new dance works in the characteristically disheveled Judson attire, and Siegel wrote terse critiques of what she saw…. No one seems better qualified to assess Tharp's career, therefore," Windreich continued, "than Siegel, who went on to become one of the most respected dance critics, authors and academics in America and who continues to this day to observe and report on the work of a dance-maker who has become, almost accidentally, an international celebrity."

The Judson Church movement was a vital part of the culture of rebellion that characterized the 1960s. "Young choreographers," wrote Jennifer Homans in the New York Times Book Review, "rebelled against what they saw as the constraints of ballet and traditional modern dance. Rejecting formal training and staging, they prized everyday movement, got rid of the proscenium arch, performed in jeans and refused to bow." Tharp began in this atmosphere, but she built on the naturalistic dance promoted by the movement to create a form that combined the best of the old and the new. "Her dances appeared casual and colloquial, but they were choreographically complex and mathematically precise, the product of a rigorous analytic mind," Homans stated. "Moreover, her dancers may have looked like you and me, but they were testing their physical skills in quite extraordinary ways."

Critics praise Siegel's chronicling of Tharp's career. Her "writing on the ballets commissioned by Joffrey and ABT possesses enviable lucidity and analytic insight," stated Allen Ulrich in Dance. "For those of us who experienced these dances live, the book summons images of a heady era in recent dance history. For those who missed these works (even the ephemera), the prose makes us regret our absence." "Anyone who reads Siegel's criticism, and then has an opportunity to see a Tharp ballet," Judith Gelernter declared in the Weekly Standard, "will no doubt enjoy the ballet more." "This concise, thoroughly researched book," Carolyn M. Mulac concluded in Library Journal, "will prepare readers to meet one of the greats."



The Shapes of Change: Images of American Dance, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1979.


Ballet˜Dance, July, 2006, Leland Windreich, review of Howling near Heaven: Twyla Tharp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance.

Booklist, February 15, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Howling near Heaven, p. 38.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, April, 1992, C.T. Bond, review of The Tail of the Dragon: New Dance, 1976-1982, p. 1237.

Christian Science Monitor, March 21, 1988, review of Days on Earth: The Dance of Doris Humphrey, p. 22.

Dance, April, 1988, review of Days on Earth, pp. 80, 109; January, 1992, Harris Green, review of The Tail of the Dragon, p. 84; January, 1993, Deborah Jowitt, review of The Tail of the Dragon, p. 88; November, 1993, review of Days on Earth, p. 92; April, 2006, Allan Ulrich, review of Howling near Heaven, p. 78.

Dance Research Journal, fall, 1992, Julie Van Camp, review of The Tail of the Dragon; June, 22, 2006, "Papers Honoring Marcia B. Siegel: 2005 CORD Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research Award Panel," p. 75.

Library Journal, November 1, 1987, Joan Stahl, review of Days on Earth, p. 121; September 15, 1991, Joan Stahl, review of The Tail of the Dragon, p. 80; February 15, 2006, Carolyn M. Mulac, review of Howling near Heaven, p. 119.

New York Times Book Review, February 28, 1988, Eva Resnikova, review of Days on Earth, p. 24; April 16, 2006, Jennifer Homans, "Revolutionary Movement."

Publishers Weekly, January 30, 2006, review of Howling near Heaven, p. 52.

TDR, winter, 1992, review of The Tail of the Dragon.

Weekly Standard, July 24, 2006, Judith Gelernter, "Modern Dancer: The World According to Tharp."