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Dance Director Silvana Cardell Receives Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship


The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awards fellowships to exceptional individuals so these visionaries in their respective fields can freely create. Creativity is second nature to Silvana Cardell, who is among six choreographers in this year’s prestigious Guggenheim Fellows cohort. Ms. Cardell, associate professor of dance and director of the dance program at Georgian Court University and artistic director of the Philadelphia-based Cardell Dance Theater, is a multi-award winning choreographer, dancer, and educator.

This year’s 180-member Guggenheim Fellows cohort was chosen from among nearly 2,500 applicants. The Philadelphia Dance Journal and American Theatre website published articles referencing Ms. Cardell’s inclusion in the high-achieving group.

With her fellowship award, Ms. Cardell will choreograph a performance, Disposable Bodies, that examines the treatment of bodies—both human and nonhuman. The work reflects her career-long artistic theme of justice—also one of the Mercy core values to which Georgian Court is committed.

“As a dancer, my mission is to connect audiences to their bodies. In Disposable Bodies, I am proposing a challenging and critical look at issues we consider only human,” said Ms. Cardell. “I am asking you, as we think about injustices, to remember how injustices connect us beyond the human realm to those creatures we consider below us, as we are willing to disregard their suffering.” The work will ask the audience to contemplate two fundamental questions: “Who counts as human?” and “Whose lives count as lives?”

Dancers rehearse Disposable Bodies piece
Dancers rehearse Disposable Bodies.

A combination of movement, installation, sound, sculpture, and live video, Disposable Bodies will premiere at Taller Puertorriqueño in Philadelphia this October and will be co-presented by Philadelphia Dance Projects.

When announcing this year’s fellowships, Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation and 1985 Fellow in Poetry, said that “the work supported by the foundation will aid in our collective effort to better understand the new world we’re in, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.” Ms. Cardell is hopeful that’s true with Disposable Bodies, and also that her GCU students can take another message from her career and the Guggenheim Fellowship.

“Do not give up at the first rejection,” she said. “Find a way to follow your vision and your desires. Perseverance and focus will not only advance your life, they can expand knowledge and change the world!”

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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