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Dance Show Inspired by Book on Vietnam War, Protests

January 19, 2012 – The Washington, D.C., premiere of the dance performance “Into Sunlight,” inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss’ book about the Vietnam War, will take place at Georgetown Jan. 20 and 21.

The university’s history department and the Davis Performing Arts Center are co-presenting the performance by acclaimed choreographer Robin Becker’s ensemble.

Maraniss is the author of They Marched Into Sunlight – War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967, which chronicles the war as well as protests in his hometown of Madison,Wisc.

The author will provide an introduction and participate in a post-performance discussion with the artists and the audience.

Georgetown’s Role

The history department got involved after Maraniss told associate professor Katie Benton-Cohen about the performance, and he and Becker invited her to see it in New York this past summer.

“Then David asked me if it was possible to bring it to Georgetown,” Benton-Cohen explained. “He has been so generous with his time in speaking to my class and to the Pacific World class taught by [assistant professor] Christine Kim that I was delighted to reciprocate.”

Benton-Cohen used the book in her U.S History survey course and Maraniss came to campus in the spring of 2011 to discuss the book with students.

Complex and Human

“I assigned the book because I can’t imagine a more complex and human way to tell the story of the Vietnam War to current undergraduates,” she said.

“I first became interested in the book because I attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where the protests outlined in the book occurred,” the professor added. “But I was drawn in by the poignancy of the stories of both soldiers and protesters, and the era in which they lived.”

She said the performance is also supported by Georgetown’s Institute for Global History in her department and the university’s American Studies Program, the Mortara Center for International Studies, and the Program of Justice and Peace Studies, to name a few.

Pressing Issues

Benton-Cohen explained that she is “enormously grateful” to the performing arts department for taking on the project.

She added that the dialogue is the main point of the event, and that everyone involved in the production is excited to have Georgetown's increasing community of veterans as well as activists participate.

“We are honored to be collaborating with professor Benton-Cohen and our colleagues in the history department to host Robin Becker, David Maraniss and this extraordinary multidisciplinary performance work in the Davis Center,” said Derek Goldman, the center’s artistic director and a professor of theater and performance studies. “ ‘Into Sunlight’ gloriously embodies our distinctive commitment to world-class performance that engages politics, history, and the pressing issues in our world.”

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