National Museum of Dance Collection

The Fugitive Gesture

The 1988 landmark exhibition, The Fugitive Gesture: Masterpieces of Dance Photography 1849 to the Present, was the first major installation at the Museum to present dance outside of the American landscape. Created by internationally-renowned photography curator and author William A. Ewing, The Fugitive Gesture considered both the art and craft of dance photography within themes of invention, record and document, icon and idol, independent eye, collaboration, and tour de force. Nearly one hundred and fifty black and white photographs by notable and unknown photographers alike were featured, representing a broad range of dance genres and milieus. Works by luminaries such as George Platt Lynes, Brassaï, Ilse Bing, Irving Penn, Barbara Morgan, Lotte Jacobi, George Hoyningen-Huene, Edgar Degas, and Margaret Bourke-White, most of whom did not work exclusively in dance, were included among this vast and diverse assemblage of photographers and images. Ewing gave this complete collection of prints to the Museum on permanent loan at the end of the exhibition. The Fugitive Gesture was restaged in its entirety in the 2001 season.