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Moving Ideas

Multimodality and Embodied Learning in Communities and Schools


Edited By Mira-Lisa Katz

What does it look and feel like to communicate, create, compose, comprehend, teach, and learn with our bodies? Reaching beyond existing scholarship on multimodality and literacies, Moving Ideas expands our capacity to understand the embodied dimensions of learning and stretches our repertoires for more artfully describing them. Wresting language away from its historically privileged place at the center of social science research and practice, this collection examines the strategic layering across semiotic modes, challenging educators and researchers to revisit many of our most elemental assumptions about communication, learning, and development. The corporeal pedagogies these authors describe illuminate a powerful kind of learning that we know far too little about; in this age of accountability and high-stakes testing, failing to pay adequate attention to the promise of multimodality means forfeiting significant resources that could be used to innovatively engage people of all ages in education broadly conceived.
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6. 36 Jewish Gestures




36 Jewish Gestures


Not long ago, I choreographed a dance about a Jewish family from the 1950s, set in the Jewish community (and mob culture) of Las Vegas. As it turned out, only one of the dancers cast in this piece had grown up in a Jewish family herself, and I was thus faced with the unlikely task of teaching the dancers how to move and act like members of my own Jewish family. To complicate matters, I cast all the male roles with female dancers, so some of the dancers were also learning how to move convincingly as males. Together we scrutinized the movement, language, and signatures of gender and culture, to bring this project to life.

I was not entirely new to drag performance at the time—I had once created a physical portrait of a boxer in another dance—but I was curious about how to articulate a form of drag that was convincingly Jewish. This was perhaps when I first started to ask: is there such a thing as a Jewish gesture? Do we embody desire and loss in identifiably Jewish ways? The hands, the postures, the facial expressions—what does our movement say about us?

I frequently recognize Jewish gestures, and in fact have become somewhat obsessed with collecting them. If I am comfortable with someone, I will spontaneously ask her “what’s your favorite Jewish gesture?,” but mostly I just see...

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