Translucent Borders is a project exploring ways that dancers and musicians can act as catalysts for creative engagement across geographic and cultural borders. Beginning in refugee camps in Lesbos in 2016, the project has facilitated global conversations between dancers and musicians in The Middle East, Greece, Cuba, and Ghana through interviews, knowledge-sharing circles, master classes, improvisation, and performance. These encounters contextualize various ways the performing arts function “at the brink,” whether of language, community, consciousness, ethnicity, or genre. Translucent Borders is a Working Group of NYU’s Global Institute for Advanced Study, providing time and space for artists and scholars to work across cultural, socio-political, linguistic and geographical divides. Participants are New York University faculty in dance, music, theater, anthropology and recorded music, as well as international dance and music artists.

Due to the increasing effects of forced migration and the massive globalization of social media, cross-cultural encounter and exchange has greatly intensified in recent years. This has been accompanied by a growing response from artists and scholars in dance and music. A border can be represented by a line. But it can also be viewed more expansively, as its own space, fertile with the potential for either confrontation or learning and evolution.

 In 2017, the Translucent Borders project initiated collaborative pairings of artists from Cuba, Ghana, Israel, Palestine, and the United States. Artists began working long distance via Skype: a Cuban dancer with a Palestinian singer, a Ghanaian dancer with an Israeli musician, etc. These projects were brought to fruition in June, 2018, when the international artists came together in residency at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, with additional performances at New York’s Lincoln Center Atrium, and the NYU Jack Crystal Theater.