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George StaibProfessor of Practice


MFA, dance and choreography, Temple University


Born in Tehran, Iran, George Staib began his dance training at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. He holds a BA in political science, and an MFA in dance and choreography from Temple University where he served on the faculty upon graduation. Notable teachers include Ann Vachon, Marcia Dale Weary, and Betty Jones; company credits include Ann Vachon/Dance Conduit, Coriolis Dance Company, Gathering Wild Dance Company, and Paula Kellinger and Dancers. In addition, in the fall of 2006 Staib performed with the José Limón Dance Company as a guest artist in their re-creation of Missa Brevis. He has performed his critically-acclaimed solo NarcissEros extensively at venues across the United States and Europe.

In 2001 he joined the dance faculty at Emory University where he teaches modern and ballet techniques, choreography, and Contemplate, Create, Debate, a freshman seminar designed to introduce students to the practice of seeing and making art. He is also a regular advisor to honors candidates in the theater/dance and music departments at Emory and serves as an adjudicator for the American College Dance Association. Staib's choreographic work has been commissioned across the United States and abroad. He is also a contributing writer and critic for ArtsATL and was recognized by Dance Teacher Magazine as one of the top five dance educators in the country.

In 2011, Staib received Emory's prestigious Winship Award for senior lecturers and traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to spend five weeks studying Gaga technique with members of the Batsheva Dance Company, release technique with Iris Enez, and led choreographic workshops and feedback sessions. In 2016, Staib was invited to Stockholm to teach and create work at two of Sweden's top performing arts colleges, Södra Latin and BalletAkadamien.

In 2019, Staib was promoted to the rank of Professor of Practice and awarded a second Winship Prize for lecturers at Emory University. He will travel to Berlin, Vienna, and London to begin collaborative ventures with artists dedicated to "devised theater and dance" processes, while also touring his latest NEFA funded work, fence, across the United States.


Recent Choreographic Works

fence is a journey into a messy world of power struggles and dismissed histories, and an examination of how "otherness" can rob our power or become its source. Staib's intensely physical movement vocabulary bonds with traditional Iranian dance, exploring unrest felt personally and globally. Through rich and compelling collaborations with musicians; composers; and scenic, lighting and digital designers, audiences become woven in the work, giving shape to the conversation around what takes your power and what gives you power.

fence was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Production residency funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


w i s h d u s t turns a sharp lens to the aging process: how do the forces of free will and fate co-mingle with satisfaction and regret? Looking back on 50 years of life choices, Staib creates a fantasy world of alternate paths.

Set designer Leslie Taylor and lighting designer Gregory Catellier transformed the Schwartz Center Dance Studio into a desolate space shadowed by a massive abstract tree. Dancers and musicians move through a landscape peppered with hanging pomegranates, Armenian symbols of prosperity. For Staib, they are also perfect internal worlds, housing sweet possibilities and unattainable goals. "wishdust" was a major collaborative undertaking for the company. The celebrated Vega String Quartet performed selected classics as well as an original composition by Emory music faculty member Richard Prior. Pianist Kendall Simpson also performed live and Atlanta-based electronic musician and composer Ben Coleman created and mixed soundscapes in real time.

In an environment where sound, movement, light, and scenery create shifting dreamlike states, Staib finds parallels to his experience as an Iranian-born Armenian transplanted to rural Pennsylvania. "My American understanding of life was that we are charged to fulfill a destiny," Staib explains. "My Armenian understanding was that 'destiny' had to fit into the scope of honorable occupations and traditions." From this dichotomy, "wishdust" ponders willingness, determination, giving up, and wondering what could have been if things had been different.


With Moat, artistic director George Staib reflects on his memories of immigrating from Iran to a small Pennsylvania town during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Fueled by heightened anti-Middle Eastern sentiment in the United States, some locals reacted with hostility, throwing tear gas into the family's yard and bullying the kids at school. The family faced – as many do – the cultural assimilation conundrum: how much should/can people change to fit the surrounding culture? What traditions will they give up in the name of fitting in? What is too important and remains intact?

Throughout the work, dancers crawl through, rearrange, sift, and throw 200 pounds of red rubber mulch, constantly delineating space then destroying it and moving on. They claim, shift, then reclaim place, sometimes out of the necessity, sometimes frustration. Performed in the round at Emory University's Performing Arts Studio, Moat invites viewers into a natural, messy, and constantly evolving world.

In a parallel motif, the work raises questions of self-protection; what is the difference between insulation and isolation? When a drastic event or change forces us to construct a protective shell, what are the consequences? Barriers shut out negative outcomes but they also hold those inside prisoner. It becomes as hard to get out as it is to let people in.


In creating Attic, Staib asked dancers to consider how and where they hold, carry, store, and often bury remembrances of the past. Inspired by his own memories of pre-Revolutionary Iran – a culturally-rich yet dangerous and politically unstable place – the choreographer pits the celebratory against the terrifying. Many images are adapted from the traditional Persian festival Nowruz, a spring celebration that marks the start of the Persian calendar's new year with symbolic rituals of rebirth, cleansing, and goodwill toward others. Set in the round, with audience members on the stage and dancers surrounding them, Attic is an immersive, often unsettling work. Experiences accumulate, perspective shifts, and the audience is gradually folded into a world altered by memory's fuzzy lens.


TEDxEmory Talk: Get Lost in Dance

Staib compels you to be fascinated with experiences where you do not have any answers. Two performers accompany Staib to demonstrate how to pay attention to detail when you are situationally lost.