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City Folk

English Country Dance and the Politics of the Folk in Modern America

Daniel Walkowitz, 0, 0

Publication Year: 2010

“New Yorker Daniel Walkowitz draws on his extensive knowledge and experience from the USA, but by the nature and origin of his subject matter, he has to consider England as well... He accepts that the scene in England is more varied, yet highlights an absence of teaching dance technique, a failure to train dance teachers, and the ‘relatively thin’ music. So, England, is this true? And if so, what are we going to do about it?”

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii


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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xii

Folk dance groups seemingly are in an ever-constant search for new bodies, especially to augment the persistent short supply of male dancers. In that spirit, in March 1993, some friends with whom I was doing Scandinavian dancing every Wednesday evening at a synagogue on East 14th Street in New York City urged me to join ...

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pp. xiii-xv

Over the course of the decade in which I began to collect material for this book and to interview dancers, choreographers, musicians, and leaders, I also danced regularly. As a participant-observer, in truth I am indebted to all in this national and international dance community. Most of the people with whom I spoke knew ...

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pp. 1-12

Virtually every schoolgirl educated in the United States in the twentieth century grew up doing folk dancing, though few probably thought of it as a substantive part of their educational experience. My wife, Judith, for instance, who grew up in suburban Long Island in the 1950s, remembers folk dance as one of the preferred gym options ...

Part I Anglo-American Urban Folk Revivals

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pp. 13

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1 Revival Stories

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pp. 15-41

Boxing Day 1899. Cecil Sharp, the music master at Ludgrove, a boys’ preparatory school mainly for Eton, was spending the Christmas holiday with his wife’s family at Sandfield Cottage, Headington, just east of Oxford. Sharp’s career up to then had been one of modest achievement; the son of a London slate merchant, ...

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2 Orderly Bodies:Dancing New York, 1900–1914

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pp. 42-67

Anglo-American exchanges in the decade before World War I, both of Americans traveling to the United Kingdom and of the British visitors to the United States, shaped awakenings of a folk revival in both New York and London. But, of course, English Country Dance was not new to America then; transatlantic crossings ...

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3 Orderly Bodies: Dancing London, 1900–1914

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pp. 68-89

Elizabeth Burchenal seems to have been the first twentieth-century American to voyage to London in search of folk dance roots, going perhaps as early as 1903. Around 1903 or 1904, she traveled from village to village in Denmark, Norway, Germany, Sweden, France, Ireland, and Spain collecting folk dances that ...

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4 Planting a Colony in America

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pp. 90-116

On December 23, 1914, the SS Lusitania docked in New York Harbor bearing renowned folklorist Cecil Sharp, chair of the English Folk Dance Society. The man cut an impressive figure. Sharp’s square-jawed visage, firm posture, and formal dress belied his fifty-four years and the chronic asthma that left him often weakened and sick. ...

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5 The American Branch

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pp. 117-158

In the years between 1915 and 1918, Cecil Sharp put his stamp on the American Branch of the EFDSS as an authoritative outpost of Englishness as he imagined it. During three extended collecting trips in the southern Appalachian Mountains, he also advanced the belief that native American song and dance was an extension of Englishness ...

Part II Liberalism and Folk Reimaginings

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pp. 159

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6 The Second Folk Revival

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pp. 161-205

“Freaks” are destroying conditions in Washington Square Park, wrote Newbold Morris, the New York City commissioner of parks, in March 1961, denying a renewal of the permit to folk sing in the park. “I want to emphasize I am not opposed to the wonderful symphony concerts, bands, quartets or chamber music”; rather, ...

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7 Re-Generation

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pp. 206-237

Jacqueline Schwab, a self-described “nerd” who loved the folk trio Peter, Paul, and Mary and “the usual sixties,” attended Pinewoods in 1971 for the first time. She found a world still rooted in a mainstream culture: “Women weren’t allowed to ask men to dance. Men could ask women to dance. And women had to wear skirts to the dances. ...

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8 Modern English Country Danceand the Culture of Liberalism

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pp. 238-260

Modern English Country Dance (MECD) blossomed after 1990 and transported its participants. In interviews, dancers repeatedly testified— and the religious meaning of the word resonated in their remarks—to how ECD took them to another social and emotional space. Thom Yarnal, a New York dancer who had moved to Wisconsin ...

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pp. 261-274

It is Thursday evening, “Beginners’ Night” for English Country Dancing at Cecil Sharp House in Camden Town, a North London district with a lively and youthful punk nightlife. The House—an impressive, heritagelisted, three-story, Georgian, purpose-built edifice—sits a few blocks away from the tube station in a prosperous, ...


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pp. 275-308


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pp. 309-322


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pp. 323-334

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About the Author

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pp. 335

Daniel J. Walkowitz is Professor of History and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. He is the author and editor of several books, most recently Working with Class: Social Workers and the Politics of Middle-Class Identity (1999) and, as coeditor, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814794753
E-ISBN-10: 0814794750
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814794692
Print-ISBN-10: 0814794696

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Country dancing -- United States -- History.
  • Folk dancing -- United States -- History.
  • Dance -- Social aspects -- United States -- History.
  • Folk dancing, English.
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