The Dancer Within: Photo © Rose Eichenbaum


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Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

Working with Rose was spiritual; an intellectual, magically creative experience that woke up some old muscles, reminding me of why I loved dancing so much in the first place.” — Russ Tamblyn, dancer and actor

Rennie Harris's Puremovement dancers. Photo by Rose EichenbaumWhere does the urge to dance come from? How do dancers and choreographers cope with the highs and lows of the artist’s life? What are their responsibilities to each other, to their audiences, to themselves? These are just a few of the questions that dancer-turned-photojournalist Rose Eichenbaum posed, with camera in hand, to America’s most celebrated dancers and choreographers.

The Dancer Within takes visitors on a spectacular tour of the multi-dimensional world of dance. Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jacques d’Amboise, Katherine Dunham, José Greco, Cynthia Gregory, Bill T. Jones, Ann Reinking, Chita Rivera, Lar Lubovitch, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, and some 35 other choreographers and dancers are captured in Eichenbaum’s revealing portraits and dramatic performance shots. Accompanying each photograph are excerpts drawn from face-to-face interviews that speak of her subjects’ lives, triumphs, and fears.

Complementing the exhibition are Eichenbaum’s books, The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers (Wesleyan University Press, 2008) and Masters of Movement: Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers (Smithsonian Books, 2004). The exhibition is generously supported by United Dance Merchants of America. Additional support has been provided by The Enchanted Garden Conservatory of Music, Dance & Drama.

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Exhibition Specifications

Contents 48 matted and framed color and black-and-white photographs, text panels, labels
Supplemental Companion books, educational and promotional resources, bibliography, film guide
Participation Fee $3,000 for 8-week booking period
Size 240 running feet
Crates 5, est.
Weight 1,250 pounds, est.
Category Art
Security Limited
Shipping Outgoing
SITES Contacts

Minnie Russell, 202.633.3160 (Scheduling)

Toured Through 2010
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Tour Itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
4/5/2008 6/1/2008 Ypsilanti District Library, Ypsilanti, MI Booked
6/21/2008 8/17/2008 Chattanooga African American Museum, TN Booked
9/6/2008 11/2/2008 Oglebay Institute, Stifel Fine Arts Center, Wheeling, WV Booked
12/13/2008 4/5/2009 Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, Salina, KS Booked
4/25/2009 6/21/2009 Drexel University, Rincliffe Gallery, Philadelphia, PA Booked
7/11/2009 9/6/2009 Del Rio Council for the Arts, Del Rio, TX Booked
9/26/2009 11/22/2009 Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI Booked
12/12/2009 2/7/2010 Red Cloud Opera House, Red Cloud, NE Booked
2/27/2010 4/25/2010 Sunrise Civic Center, Sunrise, FL Booked
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Related Publications

The Dancer Within (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)

Masters of Movement: Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers (Smithsonian Books, 2004; paperback, Smithsonian Press, 2007)

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Press Release

December 6, 2007

Spirit of Dance Celebrated in Smithsonian Photography Exhibit
Media Web site:

What compels people to dance? What fuels the choreographer’s creative vision? Why do most dancers devote their entire lives to this art form? Many artists refer to a spirit within that defines and drives their need to move, to create, to dance. It is this spirit that is explored in the evocative Smithsonian traveling exhibition The Dancer Within.

Featuring 48 color and black-and-white photographs by dancer-turned-photojournalist Rose Eichenbaum, the exhibition will be on view at the Ypsilanti District Library in Ypsilanti, Mich., April 5, 2008 through June 1, 2008. The Dancer Within, from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), will continue on a national tour through 2010.

“Visually, the exhibition captures a moment in the life of a dancer,” said Eichenbaum. “Viscerally, it reflects how dance speaks to the social and cultural issues of our times and has the power to express the deepest of human emotions.” In 1998, equipped with a camera and tape recorder, Eichenbaum set out to elicit the secrets of creativity from some of America’s greatest choreographers. After publishing Masters of Movement, her highly acclaimed 2004 collection of photographs and interviews, Eichenbaum focused her lens on ballet icons, Broadway stars, Hollywood legends, hip-hop artists and modern-dance luminaries. The result, The Dancer Within, takes visitors on a backstage—and at times on-stage—tour of the multidimensional world of dance.

The character and vitality of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jacques d’Amboise, José Greco, Bill T. Jones, Ann Reinking, Chita Rivera, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Tune, and dozens of other choreographers and dancers are captured in revealing portraits and dramatic performance shots. Interview excerpts documenting the dancers’ candid reflections on life, work and passion accompany each photograph, providing a rare glimpse at the inner workings of the artists.

“I believe in destiny,” said internationally acclaimed ballet dancer Natalia Makarova. “But I also believe that there are many factors that go into what makes a dancer—the right physique and proportions; exposure to music, literature and art; environment; and family. But then there is something else, something that is God-given—spirit. How spirit is formed I don’t know. No one can explain this.”

A companion book complements the national traveling exhibition. The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers will be published in spring 2008 by Wesleyan University Press. The Dancer Within was created by Rose Eichenbaum, organized for travel by SITES and made possible through the generous support of United Dance Merchants of America, presenter of National Dance Week. 

Additional support has been provided by The Enchanted Garden Conservatory of Music, Dance & Drama in Ridgefield, CT. Eichenbaum, whose photographs “open windows onto the soul of dance,” according to the New York Times, is one of the most highly acclaimed photojournalists working in the dance field today. She holds a bachelor’s degree in ethnic arts/dance and a master’s degree in dance from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her love and commitment to the art form lead her to teaching, dance research, photography and, ultimately, photojournalism.

An award-winning photographer, she has photographed some of this country’s most respected dance companies, including Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Project, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Tango Argentino, Les Grands Ballet Canadian de Montreal and many others. Her photos and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher and Dance Spirit. Her books include The Number on My Grandfather’s Arm (UAHC Press) and Masters of Movement—Portraits of America’s Great Choreographers (Smithsonian Books). Eichenbaum’s photography has been exhibited from coast-to-coast with one woman shows at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.


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Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Exhibition Images

Promotional Materials

Related Publications

Press Release

In the News

Exhibition Video Snippet

Spanish Gallery Guide

More Exhibitions from SITES


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