Start of Main Content

Dr. Laure Guilbert

Fred and Maria Devinki Memorial Fellow
“Dance in Ghettos and Camps? Gestures-Landscapes on the Confines of Humanity”

Professional Background

Dr. Laure Guilbert is currently a French independent historian and editor. She is Associate Member at the Centre d’histoire sociale des mondes contemporains at the University of Paris 1 (France). She holds a Ph.D. from the European University Institute of Florence (Italy), to which she devoted the collaboration of the choreographic artists with the Third Reich in Germany (Danser avec le IIIe Reich. Les danseurs modernes sous le nazisme. Brussels, Éditions Complexe, 2000; André Versaille Éditeur, 2011).

While being Lecturer and Visiting Assistant Professor in history and theories of performing arts at the Universities of Paris 3, Versaille, Metz, Lille (France) and Frankfurt-an-der Oder (Germany), she conducted several cultural missions for the Cité de la Musique and the Centre national de la Danse in Paris. From 2002 to 2018, she was Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the dance books of the Paris National Opera. She also cofounded and presided over the aCD (Association des Chercheurs en Danse) and has cofounded in 2014 the first French-speaking dance research journal, Recherches en Danse.

In parallel, she has devoted herself to a second book project on the exodus of the choreographic Avant-garde from the Nazi Regime – ongoing research which aims to retrace and question the transnational paths of about 400 German-speaking artists dispersed in several continents and diasporic contexts: their escape, their routes, their sociocultural and artistic experiences that mingled survival dynamics and creative processes. This research has led her since 2012 to travel to many archive locations in Europe, Australia and the United States due to the support of several awards (The Lilian Karina Foundation, Stockholm; Institut Français, Paris) and travel scholarships (Stavros Niarchos Fellows Development Fund, New York; Forschungskolleg Tanzwissenschaft, Cologne; Carina Ari Foundation, Stockholm; Centre national de la Danse, Paris). In this frame, she has also held numerous research fellowships, including at the London University (2012), the Europa Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder (2015 and 2016), the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin (2015-2017) and The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (2019).

Fellowship Research

Dr. Laure Guilbert has been awarded a 2019-2020 Fred and Maria Devinki Memorial Fellowship at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies for her project, “Dance in Ghettos and Camps? Gestures-Landscapes on the Confines of Humanity.” Her research relies on lost stories of the Holocaust: the existence of dance practices in the ghettos, concentration and extermination camps of the Third Reich. These practices have been used both as a mode of persecution by the SS officers and as survival strategies by the deportees. The goal of this research is to examine a choice of case studies that depicts the differential uses, functions and issues of these practices in their specific contexts.

Broadening her research to the effects of Holocaust, Dr. Guilbert also looks at the role played by dance after the Second World War for helping the survivors to heal their traumas. In this perspective, she focuses on the dance activities organized in several Displaced persons’ camps in the Allied-occupied Germany. She follows as well the ways a few survivor dancers used dance and autobiographical writing as a new path for resilience. Drawing upon the oral, visual and manuscripts resources of the Museum, this research aims at shedding new light on the micro-history of Holocaust and the cultural history of bodies and arts in contexts of extreme violence.

Dr. Guilbert is the author of two publications on this topic: “Dancers under Duress. The forgotten Resistance of Fireflies,” in Ruth Eshel, Judith Brin Ingber (eds.), Mahol Akshav / Dance Today, The Dance Magazine of Israel (36, special issue: 2019, 11-16), and, “The Micro-Gestures of Survival: Searching for the Forgotten Traces,” in Naomi Jackson, Rebecca Pappas, Toni Shapiro-Phim (eds.), Handbook of Jewishness and Dance in Contemporary Perspective (proceedings of the international conference of the Arizona State University, “Jews and Jewishness in the Dance World,” Center for Jewish Studies, Tempe, 13-15 Oct. 2018), Oxford University Press, 2020, forthcoming).

Residency Period: February 1 through September 30, 2020