I Want to be Ready
Improvised Dance as a Practice of Freedom
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Introduction: The Land of the Free
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In May of 2005, the choreographer David Dorfman was watching his Con-necticut College seniors moving across the studio. “I just love the freedom ofit, and if you don’t like what you’re doing, you can change it!” he exclaimed.1 Dorfman’s belief in the “freedom” of improvised dance is precisely whatmakes him so appealing to both students and faculty at the college. As the...
1. Mambo’s Open Shines: Causing Circles at the Palladium
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Mura Dehn’s The Spirit Moves, a three-part film of social dance from 1900 through the 1950s, offers a rare opportunity to see the mambo dancing that flourished in midcentury New York City. In grainy black and white, the film contains two types of mambo footage: scenes of masses dancing at the Palladium and the Savoy, two famous New York City...
2. We Insist! Seeing Music and Hearing Dance
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Salón México (1948), a film about a showgirl at one of Mexico’s famous cabarets, contains striking scenes of mambo in which distinctions between musicians and dancers begin to blur. While musicians in the film typically begin to play from set locations—either on a bandstand or outside a circle of observers—they head to the dance floor, mingling and...
3. Bodies on the Line: Contact Improvisation and Techniques of Nonviolent Protest
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...of travelers—seven black males, three white males, and three white females, varying in age and professional standing but all trained in nonviolence—embarked on what they called the “Freedom Ride.”1 Designed by the Congressof Racial Equality (CORE), the bus ride was meant to commemorate and further the organization’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, a nonviolent test of a...
4. The Breathing Show: Improvisation in the Work of Bill T. Jones
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...himself began talking about the artist’s move from explicitly political, identity-based works to an investigation of aesthetics and pure movement.1 They talked about the more conventional makeup of Jones’s ensemble, particularly the fact that Lawrence Goldhuber and Alexandra Beller, dancers whom theNew York Times described as “imperfect” because “chubbier than the...
Conclusion: Exquisite Dancing—Altering the Terrain of Tight Places
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In each of this book’s four chapters, I have highlighted many of the social, historical, and formal constraints that affect how people move, paying particular attention to the tight places that celebrations of improvised dance frequently fail to notice. Although I believe that this is necessary work, I also want to make sure not to obscure the many ways in which the actual dancing...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 9 photographs
Publication Year: 2010