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Women on the Edge: Recovering the Women of the Trojan War

with Choreographer Pascal Rioult and Professor Peter Burian
July 20th, 2016
11:30 AM


Banner image by Sofia Negron.

Wednesday, July 20

11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Nelson Music Room (Duke's East Campus)

Free and open to the public

Join us for a discussion of the power of dance to connect contemporary audiences to ancient Greek texts. Choreographer Pascal Rioult, artistic director of RIOULT Dance NY, comes to the American Dance Festival this summer to present Women on the Edge... Unsung Heroines of the Trojan War, his triptych inspired by Euripides' heroines Helen of Troy, Iphigenia, and Cassandra. Our discussion with Rioult will be led by Duke Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies, Peter Burian, world-renowned expert in Greek drama and translation and author of numerous books and articles on Euripides' tragedies. Together, Burian and Rioult will guide us through an exploration of Euripides' timeless themes: the brutality and irrationality of war, the grace and strength of women in society, and the power and resilience of the human spirit.

Duke Today media coverage! 

This discussion is co-sponsored by the American Dance Festival and Duke University's Forum for Scholars and Publics.

Rioult DANCE will perform at Reynolds Industries Theater July 18, 19, & 20 at 8 pm. The program includes Rioult’s Iphigenia, On Distant Shores, and the ADF commissioned Cassandra’s Curse, each set to commissioned music by contemporary American composers Michael Torke, Aaron Kernis, and Richard Danielpour, respectively. More information can be found on the American Dance Festival's website.

Watch Pascal Rioult discuss Women on the Edge:

RIOULT Dance NY - Women on the Edge - from Penelope on Vimeo.

Pascal Rioult


A former track and field athlete in France, Mr. Rioult came to the United States on a fellowship from the French Ministry of Culture to study modern dance in 1981. After performing with the companies of May O’Donnell and Paul Sanasardo he was invited to join the Martha Graham Dance Company. He interpreted many of the most prestigious roles in the Graham repertory as a principal dancer, and in 1990, Ms. Graham created the central role (Death Figure) in her ballet Eye of the Goddess for him. Mr. Rioult performed opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joyce Herring in El Penitente and was featured in two television specials: “Martha Graham in Japan” and “Five Dances by Martha Graham,” filmed at the Paris Opera.

Since starting his own company, RIOULT Dance NY in 1994, Mr. Rioult has dedicated his energies to developing his own choreographic style and nurturing a robust ensemble of dancers. Of his work, Black Diamond, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times wrote, “…he has met the challenge of comparison with George Balanchine.”

Mr. Rioult’s works have been commissioned by the American Dance Festival; Cal Performances Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA; the Ballet du Nord in Roubaix, France; the Geneva Ballet, Switzerland; The Orchestra of St. Luke’s; the Gordon & Harriet Greenfield Foundation; the Grand Marnier Foundation; the Théâtre de Saint Quentin en Yvelines France; Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA; and Marymount Manhattan College; among others. He is a two-time recipient of the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography.

Peter Burian

Duke University

Peter Burian is Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies and of Theater Studies at Duke University, where he taught for 44 years before retiring in 2015. He is the author of more than thirty journal articles, and has authored, edited, or co-edited numerous books, including The Greek Tragedy in New Translations, complete edition in nine volumes, co-edited with Alan Shapiro, published by Oxford University Press. In addition to his scholarly research, Burian has held the position of chair of the Department of Classical Studies at Duke, chair of Duke's Academic Council, and interim Dean of the Humanities. He also served as director of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies, a study abroad program administered by Duke that draws students from more than 100 universities. He has been a powerful advocate for the value of humanities education and for interdisciplinary research and teaching.


Photo credit: Les Todd, Duke Photography