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Movable Pillars

Organizing Dance, 1956-1978

Katja Kolcio

Publication Year: 2010

Movable Pillars traces the development of dance as scholarly inquiry over the course of the 20th century, and describes the social-political factors that facilitated a surge of interest in dance research in the period following World War II. This surge was reflected in the emergence of six key dance organizations: the American Dance Guild, the Congress on Research in Dance, the American Dance Therapy Association, the American College Dance Festival Association, the Dance Critics Association, and the Society of Dance History Scholars. Kolcio argues that their founding between the years 1956 and 1978 marked a new period of collective action in dance and is directly related to the inclusion of moving bodies in scholarly research and the ways in which dance studies interfaces with other fields such as feminist studies, critical research methods, and emancipatory education. An impeccable work of archival scholarship and interpretive history, Movable Pillars features nineteen interviews with dance luminaries who were intimately involved in the early years of each group. This is the first book to focus on the founding of these professional organizations and constitutes a major contribution to the understanding of the development of dance in American higher education.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-xiv

This project was initiated and developed, starting early 1998, by the American Dance Guild to honor the founders of six dance organizations: The American Dance Guild, Congress On Research in Dance, American Dance Therapy Association, American College Dance Festival Association, Dance Critics Association, and Society of Dance History...

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PART I: Introduction

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pp. 1-7

[Cartesian] mind/body dualism is no mere philosophical position to be defended or dispensed with by clever argument. Rather, it is a practical metaphysics that has been deployed and socially embodied in medicine, law, literary and artistic representations, the psychological construction of self, interpersonal relationships, popular...

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Precedents: Dance as Education, Art, and Culture

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pp. 8-28

The beginning of dance as an intellectual discipline predates the organizations that are described in this book. The philosophical underpinnings and definitive issues that would situate dance in American higher education emerged in the early half of the century with the pioneering work of individual dancers and educators. The following account traces the efforts...

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The Post-War Political Climate

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pp. 29-38

The six organizations described in this book were part of a broader federally driven expansion of art in education. The period during which they were formed, from 1956 to 1978, is significant from a variety of perspectives. It overlaps with the proliferation of modern dance in American higher education during the period often referred to as the dance boom...

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Performing a Public Voice: The Emergence of Six Organizations, 1956–1970

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pp. 39-55

In the years between 1956 and 1978, federal emphasis on democracy and cultural freedom, economic investment in education and the arts, and the national climate of social ferment combined to create the context for modern dance to re-imagine itself. These factors stimulated radical aesthetic investigation and deconstruction in dance, most famously by the...

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PART II: Telling of the Times: Interviews

The following interviews are arranged by organization in chronological order of their founding. Each group of interviews is preceded by a brief introduction that provides basic information pertaining to the nature and function of that organization, its earliest documented meetings and activities, and its major activities both at the time of founding and now. All...

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The American Dance Guild, 1956

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pp. 58-89

The American Dance Guild (ADG) was the first of the six organizations described in this book to be formed. From its inception, the mission of the Guild was to service the dance community as well as the general public by raising teaching and performing standards, improving working conditions of dance, increasing the public's appreciation of dance as an art...

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The Congress on Research in Dance, 1965

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pp. 90-104

The Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) was created to facilitate research in dance. The purposes listed on the CORD web site (www.cordance.org, 2007), are to encourage exploration in all aspects of dance, including related fields; to foster the exchange of ideas, resources, and methodology through publication, international and regional...

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The American Dance Therapy Association, 1966

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pp. 105-131

More than any of the other organizations, the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) functions as a definitive source of information, structural organization, and policy for its field of specialization, dance as a therapeutic practice. The ADTA web site (www.adta.org, 2007) lists its functions as a "(1) Guardian of professionalism, (2) Pioneering the...

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The American College Dance Festival Association, 1973

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pp. 132-147

Of the six organizations described in this book, the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) most overtly promotes the performance and practice of dance on college and university campuses. Its regional and national conferences, comprised of dance concerts and classes instead of scholarly papers, emphasize dance as a performing art. The...

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The Dance Critics Association, 1974

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pp. 148-166

The Dance Critics Association (DCA) seeks to solidify dance criticism as a distinct profession. According to the mission statement on its web site, (www.dancecritics.org, 2007) DCA, "seeks to further the identity of dance criticism as a profession; to offer its members solidarity; and to provide the means for exchanging information and exploring fresh...

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The Society of Dance History Scholars, 1978

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pp. 167-193

The Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) was founded in 1978 to focus primarily on the historical research of dance. SDHS advances a broad definition of dance history, "to recover the meaning of the dance event for participants and spectators," according to its web site, which leaves room for a variety of approaches and methodologies. Its...

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pp. 194-195

As the "body" becomes increasingly visible in academic discourses across disciplines, the dancer/scholar's responsibilities and contributions similarly expand. Methodological practices develop in the field of dance, whereby knowledge that is produced within and through bodies in motion contributes a critical experiential perspective to extant structures...

Appendix I: History of the American Dance Guild

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pp. 196

Appendix II: Other Important Figures Mentioned within the Interviews

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pp. 197-204


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pp. 205-210

About the Author

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pp. 211


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pp. 213-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780819569653
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819569110

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Dance -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Dance companies -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Dance teachers -- United States -- Interviews.
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