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Dancing from Past to Present

Nation, Culture, Identities

Edited by Theresa Jill Buckland

Publication Year: 2006

This groundbreaking collection combines ethnographic and historic strategies to reveal how dance plays crucial cultural roles in various regions of the world, including Tonga, Java, Bosnia-Herzegovina, New Mexico, India, Korea, Macedonia, and England. The essays find a balance between past and present and examine how dance and bodily practices are core identity and cultural creators. Reaching beyond the typically Eurocentric view of dance, Dancing from Past to Present opens a world of debate over the role dance plays in forming and expressing cultural identities around the world.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

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pp. vii-x

This book has two principal goals. First, it aims to stimulate debate on the combined use of ethnographic and historical strategies in investigating dance as embodied cultural practice. Second, it aims to expand the field of mainstream dance studies by focusing on examples beyond typically Eurocentric conceptualizations of concert dance. The eight essays...

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pp. xi-xii

The impetus for this collection began at the 20th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on Ethnochoreology in 1998 when a major theme was traditional dance and its historical sources. In addition to new historical research, a number of often contrasting theoretical and methodological approaches to dance...

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1. Dance, History, and Ethnography: Frameworks, Sources, and Identities of Past and Present

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pp. 3-24

Ethnography and history, as methodologies through which dance may be researched, suggest contrasting spheres of space and time. For the dance ethnographer, her or his usual territory is that of the field, where source materials are created through the researcher’s systematic description of the transient actions and words of people dancing in the...

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2. Dances and Dancing in Tonga: Anthropological and Historical Discourses

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pp. 25-51

The study of dances as historical and cultural discourses can be an illuminating anthropological project. The combination, however, diverges from typical anthropological research and analyses where these two approaches are usually separated. Classic ethnographic research was based on extended fieldwork that attempted to present a picture and...

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3. Constructing a Classical Tradition: Javanese Court Dance in Indonesia

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pp. 52-74

The Republic of Indonesia is politically and culturally dominated by the island of Java, which has reputedly enjoyed an unchanging history of court performance dating back hundreds of years. Subject to colonial rule, principally by the Dutch from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, the Indonesian archipelago of several thousand islands...

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4. Utopia, Eutopia, and E.U.-topia: Performance and Memory in Former Yugoslavia

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pp. 75-96

Cultural performances may signal differing meanings according to changing political and symbolic economies. The use of dance, particularly folk dance, to project various images of nationalism and ethnonationalism in Eastern Europe has a long history dating back to the nineteenth century. In this chapter, I consider symbolic representation...

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5. Qualities of Memory: Two Dances of the Tortugas Fiesta, New Mexico

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pp. 97-122

Investigating the role of embodiment in practices of knowledge and memory, this chapter considers in particular the felt, somatic aspects of movement knowledge. I argue that thinking itself, including the way we access, organize, retrieve, and present information, is as much a matter of somatic understandings as of semiotic ones. Whereas identity has...

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6. Dancing through History and Ethnography: Indian Classical Dance and the Performance of the Past

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pp. 123-152

A bharata natyam dancer, clad in a tailored silk sari and bedecked in jewelry, sinks gracefully onto one leg. She smiles as her arm arcs gently and her articulate fingers lead her hand from a high diagonal in toward her torso. Her legs fold out into a rotated, bent-knee position, and her feet beat out a sharp rhythm. With her torso floating gracefully above...

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7. Interpreting the Historical Record: Using Images of Korean Dance for Understanding the Past

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pp. 153-174

When I began field research on Korean dance, I made a conscious decision to focus on the analysis of contemporary performances of older dances. As a dance ethnologist, I planned to use my specialized movement analysis skills as an entr

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8. Romani Dance Event in Skopje, Macedonia: Research Strategies, Cultural Identities, and Technologies

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pp. 175-198

The longitudinal study described in this chapter presents an ideal opportunity to examine ethnographic and historical dimensions in relation to a specific dance event, and also to reflect upon the context of the pioneering academic development of dance ethnology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in which the research was...

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9. Being Traditional: Authentic Selves and Others in Researching Late-Twentieth-Century Northwest English Morris Dancing

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pp. 199-227

Neat divisions into traditional and revival practices of dance frequently obscure often complex relationships to the past and present. A particular case is English morris dancing, a dance type that boasts six hundred years of recorded history, although in some quarters it is believed to date from prehistoric times.

Selected Further Reading

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pp. 231-238


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pp. 239-240


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pp. 241-245

E-ISBN-13: 9780299218539
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299218546

Publication Year: 2006