From an early age, Ann Axtmann was an avid reader and journal writer. However, after graduating from Professional Children’s School––and winning the English award for literary criticism and poetry––rather than go to college and develop her interest in literature, she pursued a passion for dance. Axtmann performed with many troupes in the United States and Mexico, including the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Clásico de Mexico. In Mexico at La Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, she choreographed more than twenty dance-theater pieces with themes such as rape, homelessness, and Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo.
In search of more intellectual stimulus, reading, and writing, Ann returned to school in 1987. At New York University, she earned a BA and MA from the Gallatin School and a PhD in performance studies. Axtmann has taught at universities in Mexico; at New York University, where she received the 2004 Gallatin Distinguished Advisor Award; and recently at the College of the Atlantic in Maine. Her articles appear in Dance Research Journal–CORD, The Mid-Atlantic Almanak, The Oxford International Dictionary of Dance, and Body and Language: Intercultural Learning Through Drama.
In 2013, Axtmann’s first book, Indians and Wannabes: Native American Powwow Dancing in the Northeast and Beyond, was published by the University Press of Florida. In this compelling interdisciplinary text, Axtmann examines powwows primarily along the northeast Atlantic coastline from New Jersey into New England, including events in Caribou, Wells Beach, and Bar Harbor in Maine. Focusing on the centrality of bodies in motion, she introduces readers to the complexities of powwow history, describes how space and time are performed along the powwow trail, identifies specific powwow dance styles, and considers the issue of race in relation to Native American dancers and the phenomenon of “playing Indian” by non-natives. Axtmann’s photographs of Indian dancers and singers, wannabes, and aspects such as the Grand Entry illustrate the text.
Axtmann is currently working on a new book about crossing cultural borders, love, and dance based on her years in Mexico. Ann moved to Mount Desert Island in 2006 with her husband, the composer and conductor Tibor Pusztai, where they live with their crafty black cat, Oscar, and Winston Turtle and Paco––two handsome Boston Terriers who love their walks at Little Long Pond.