Instant saviors (just add water)

Alternative Title

Queering Judson : re-membering the early postmodern dance movement and Choreography and analysis of Instant saviors (just add water)

Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name





Lester Tomé


Judson Dance Theater, Postmodern dance, Queer dance, Queer theory


My Honors Thesis in Dance is made of two parts. The first consists of a historical investigation of the roots of postmodern dance, examining the Judson Dance Theater and related practices through queer performance theory. I discuss the works of early postmodernists with queer identities, noting how their queerness manifested in their choreographies. Some of these artists’ works, such as those of Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton, are defining pillars of postmodern dance and the subsequent work that has followed in the form’s lineage; my research situates postmodern dance as a fundamentally queer mode of embodied expression. Other choreographers I examine, including Fred Herko and Gus Solomons, jr., have been written out of canonical narratives of the era. This project works to uncover, expose, and celebrate their stories, writing them back into history and presenting a queer Judson Dance Theater that is varied and multifaceted.

The second section of my Honors Thesis is a choreographic reflection on my work, INSTANT SAVIORS (just add water) , which I created with co-choreographer Em Papineau. This dance serves as evidence of the queer future of American concert dance for which the Judson Dance Theater artists laid a groundwork. I observe how this dance came to be by tracing historical and personal threads. What are its origins? How did we get here?

Choreography: Sofia Engelman and Em Papineau

Performers: Sofia Engelman and Em Papineau

Music: Horde of One by Disasterpiece; Emerald and Lime by Brian Eno; Emerald and Stone by Brian Eno

Lighting Design: Zoe Margolis

Costumes: Sofia Engelman and Em Papineau

Note: This video is of choreography and performance. It is part of the Senior concert: "Four Dances"


©2019 Sofia Evelina Engelman. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




This project is a video of choreography and performance and paper. Select link to read the accompanying paper: Queering Judson : re-membering the early postmodern dance movement and Choreography and analysis of Instant saviors (just add water)