This Dancerie: Paris, 1938 explores same-sex relationship as cause of Kristallnacht in video installation on Île de la Cité during Paris’ Nuit Blanche 2017

Press Release

American artist, Tony Whitfield and Whitfield CoLabs is proud to announce the installation of This Dancerie: Paris, 1938, a video installation with live music, presented from dusk to dawn on October 7/8, 2017 as an OFF event of Paris’ citywide arts festival, NUIT BLANCHE 2017. The site of this installation will be rue des Ursins on Île de la Cité.

This work is the product of a collaboration between artistic director, writer, producer, director Tony Whitfield, and Paris based cinematographer Sebastian d’Ayala Valva, and actor/assistant director Oisin Stack, and American composer Andrew Alden and actor Nils Nusens. The presentation of this work is sponsored by Whitfield CoLabs in collaboration with Paris based presenter, Association Errances


About This Dancerie: Paris, 1938

In the autumn of 1938, 12,000 Polish Jews who lived in Germany, were expelled and deposited at the Polish border. Poland refused them entry. Ostensibly, in response to this event, Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat, was assassinated in Paris by Herschel Grynszpan, a young German Jewish of Polish descent. As a consequence, the German government declared its indignation calling this murder an “act of war” perpetrated by the “Jewish world community” and the Nazi regime subsequently launched a pogrom in Germany that came to be known as Kristallnacht, implementing acts of extreme violence in which more than 400 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish enterprises were looted and burned, many Jews were murdered and others transported to concentration camps.  


This Dancerie: Paris, 1938 focuses on the controversy surrounding the relationship between vom Rath and Grynszpan that was in dispute from the day of the event. Some versions deny any prior relationship between vom Rath and his assassin, and presume that the event was a political and “proto-terrorist” action in revenge for the persecution of Jews in Germany. Other versions speaks of various homosexual relationships between them preceding and influencing the assassination since vom Rath’s sexuality was common knowledge among Paris’ gay elite at that time.

According to Whitfield, “In this portrayal of an event that would, today, be seen as an act of “self-radicalized terror,” questions arise of the personal, human subtext and its ramifications beyond the historic cultural impact of an undeniable act of extreme violence. In the wake of events like the Pulse massacre in Orlando [Florida,] this story takes on new resonance for me…What is the whole story, below the surface, that we will never really know?”


This Dancerie: Paris, 1938 is the first presentation of This Dancerie, a ten part cycle of multi-media works by Tony Whitfield and Whitfield CoLabs that will “investigate and interpret a century of queer life in Paris” over the next five years. For more information about This Dancerie: Paris, 1938 visit

This Dancerie has been made possible by generous support from The New School University/ Parsons School of Design and the Jerome Foundation. Fiscal sponsorship for Whitfield Colabs is provided in the US by Fractured Atlas.


Tony Whitfield, Whitfield CoLabs

mobile: +1 718 809 9791



Alexandra Raluca Bobes, Association Errances

tel: +33 6 63 49 93 19

email: or


Collaborating Artists

Tony Whitfield: Artistic Director, Producer, Director, Principal Designer/Artist, Writer

Tony Whitfield is an artist, designer and educator whose work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums including the New York’s Museum of Art and Design, Leslie Lohman Museum of Lesbian and Gay Art, The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History and the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in Lima, Peru and published in the US and abroad. Whitfield has also written about art, new media, film, performance and design. As the president and principal designer of Red Wing & Chambers Inc, Whitfield produced custom and limited edition furniture, products and lighting for residential and small business environments. Whitfield has also held leadership positions in New York’s arts community including Director of Printed Matter, Inc., Associate Director of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Senior Policy Analyst for Cultural Affairs in the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, as well as Program Director at Just Above Midtown, Inc (aka the Corporation for Art and Television) where, in addition to being instrumental in the management, direction and development of these organizations, he was the principal staff member responsible for curating and producing public events in dance, performance, music, in live and broadcast media. Whitfield’s writing about these fields as media for cultural criticism has been included in numerous publications over the last three decades. An Associate Professor of Art and Design Studies, he has held leadership roles including Associate Dean for Civic Engagement, Chair of the Product Design Department and Director of the Furniture Program at Parsons.