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History Peeps: Dr. Jessica Herzogenrath, Instructional Assistant Professor

Dr. Herzogenrath at the 2021 Brazos Contemporary Dance Festival
(Photo Credit: Diane Cahill Bedford)

Dr. Jessica Herzogenrath’s fascination with history began at a young age, but not in the classroom. It began in her grandmother’s home, reading notes on every antique and artifact salvaged from the local community that had made its way into her grandmother’s care. History was the family passion, passed down from grandmother, to mother, to Dr. Herzogenrath, and now to her son. With history part of everyday life, Dr. Herzogenrath began to explore its connections with other her interests, specifically her love of dance.

Before coming to Texas A&M University, Dr. Herzogenrath worked as a dancer and choreographer across the United States in a variety of styles from Hip Hop to Contemporary to Jazz. She has danced in Houston, Chicago, and New York working with many of the movers and shakers in the Dance World, including as Mikhail Baryshnikov, with whom she interned in 2008. When she entered the PhD program at Texas A&M in 2009, she pursued the history of dance as a cultural practice that defines and shapes societies. Humans have long used dance for self-expression and social cohesion, and even as a tool for protest. Specifically, her research examines dance and women in higher education during the Progressive Era. She hopes her work will help restore voices (and bodies) not traditionally captured in historical records. While working as a historian, she still finds time to perform, most recently at the Brazos Contemporary Dance Festival in September 2021.

To what historical figure would Dr. Hudson like to say “Howdy,” given the chance? Dr. Herzogenrath would like to sit down with Ann Barzel. Barzel was a twentieth century dancer, critic, writer, teacher, and advocate for the art form. Dr. Herzogenrath credits Barzel with inspiring much of her current research and would want to ask Barzel what compelled her to become so involved from the 1940s through the 1970s. What were those unusual times like?

By Kaitlyn Ross ’23