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Choreographing Difference

The Body and Identity in Contemporary Dance

Ann Cooper Albright

Publication Year: 1997

The choreographies of Bill T. Jones, Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels, Zab Maboungou, David Dorfman, Marie Chouinard, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and others, have helped establish dance as a crucial discourse of the 90s. These dancers, Ann Cooper Albright argues, are asking the audience to see the body as a source of cultural identity -- a physical presence that moves with and through its gendered, racial, and social meanings.

Through her articulate and nuanced analysis of contemporary choreography, Albright shows how the dancing body shifts conventions of representation and provides a critical example of the dialectical relationship between cultures and the bodies that inhabit them. As a dancer, feminist, and philosopher, Albright turns to the material experience of bodies, not just the body as a figure or metaphor, to understand how cultural representation becomes embedded in the body. In arguing for the intelligence of bodies, Choreographing Difference is itself a testimonial, giving voice to some important political, moral, and artistic questions of our time.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xxvi

Choreographing Difference: The Body and Identity in Contemporary Dance is the result of over a decade of my involvement with dance as a performer, choreographer, improvisor, educator, and feminist scholar. This book grew out of a conviction that contemporary dance could shed light on the current debates about how cultural identities are negotiated and embodied.1 The project has...

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Mining the Dancefield: Feminist Theory and Contemporary Dance

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pp. 1-27

In 1979, Annette Kolodny wrote an essay entitled "Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism." Tracing the expansion of a feminist inquiry within the academy, particularly in literary studies, Kolodny outlined various ways in which an emerging generation of feminist scholars was re-envisioning its relationship...

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Techno Bodies: Muscling with Gender in Contemporary Dance

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pp. 28-55

The one overwhelming image I have of La La La Human Steps' multimedia extravaganza Infante, C'est Destroy is of Louise Lecavalier flying through the air like a human torpedo. She gets caught by another dancer, thrashes around with him for a while, then vaults right out of his arms and halfway across the stage, only to rebound back into his face. A few minutes and who knows how...

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Moving Across Difference: Dance and Disability

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pp. 56-92

In 1858 Th

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Incalculable Choreographies

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pp. 93-118

In the fall of 1991, Canadian dancer Mane Chouinard came to Obelin with her company to perform and teach. While I had seen her perform and had interviewed her about her work, this was my first opportunity actually to dance with her. The experience of taking her workshop inspired me to try to include another—more bodily—source of writing within this chapter on her solo choreography. Scattered...

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Dancing Bodies and the Stories They Tell

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pp. 119-149

Autobiography, like dance, is situated at the intersection of bodily experience and cultural representation. Meaning literally "to write one's life," autobiography draws its inspiration from one's being-in-the-world—that complex and often contradictory interaction of individual perspective and cultural meaning...

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Embodying History: Epic Narrative and Cultural Identity in African-American Dance

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pp. 150-177

What would it mean to reinsert be history through one's body? What would it mean to recreate the story of a life and the history of a people? How does one rewrite the history of slavery, the history of faith, the history of a past, in order to project the story of our future? How can we reenvision the historical legacies of our time through the eyes of hope and human survival instead of rage and cynicism?...


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pp. 179-189


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pp. 190-203


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pp. 205-210


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pp. 211-216

E-ISBN-13: 9780819569912
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819563156

Page Count: 244
Publication Year: 1997

OCLC Number: 726747130
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Choreographing Difference

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Modern dance -- Social aspects.
  • Modern dance -- Psychological aspects.
  • Body image.
  • Identity (Psychology).
  • Sex in dance.
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