Forrest C. Pogue Award Speech: Oral History "A Go-Go"


Jeff Friedman, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University


Forrest C. Pogue Award Speech: Oral History "A Go-Go"

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Oral History "A Go-Go"

“Oral History A Go-Go” frames the integration of oral history and performance by evoking the author’s visceral memories of kinesthetic intelligence. Tracing the major conference themes: archival oral history projects highlighting unheard voices of performing artists, the role of embodied communication in producing oral history narratives, and using oral history sources to create live performance, the essay arrives at a new rubric: oral history for performers, oral history as embodied performance, and oral history in performance. The author cites critic Chela Sandoval’s radical semiotics, representing new ways of being through embodied art-making.  Completing the essay is an evocation of cultural studies scholar Della Pollock’s call for “making history go,” the radical heterogeneity of bodies that resist the homogenization of human experience into rigid historical narratives. The kinesthetics of indigenous Maori language in New Zealand performs an urgent doubling of Pollock’s call: oral history “a go-go.”

About the Author

Jeff Friedman is a dancer and choreographer, formerly based in San Francisco from 1979-1997.  He is the founder, former director and current senior advisor for Legacy, an oral history project that records and preserves the observations of dance community members in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Earning a Ph.D. in dance history and theory from the University of California-Riverside in 2003, Jeff is on the Department of Dance faculty at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University where he teaches both academic and studio courses.  Jeff’s research integrates oral history and performance through choreography, print publication, and digital integrations of both formats.  He performs his oral history-based choreography Muscle Memory throughout the United States and abroad, and consults with individuals and organizations on creating oral history-based works and oral history projects based on Legacy’s model.  His print publications are found in book chapters, articles and reviews in both dance and oral history research publications in the U.S., Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Britain and forthcoming in Germany.