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Terpsichore in Sneakers

Post-Modern Dance

Sally Banes

Publication Year: 2011

Drawing on the postmodern perspective and concerns that informed her groundbreaking Terpischore in Sneakers, Sally Bane's Writing Dancing documents the background and development of avant-garde and popular dance, analyzing individual artists, performances, and entire dance movements. With a sure grasp of shifting cultural dynamics, Banes shows how postmodern dance is integrally connected to other oppositional, often marginalized strands of dance culture, and considers how certain kinds of dance move from the margins to the mainstream.

Banes begins by considering the act of dance criticism itself, exploring its modes, methods, and underlying assumptions and examining the work of other critics. She traces the development of contemporary dance from the early work of such influential figures as Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine to such contemporary choreographers as Molissa Fenley, Karole Armitage, and Michael Clark. She analyzes the contributions of the Judson Dance Theatre and the Workers' Dance League, the emergence of Latin postmodern dance in New York, and the impact of black jazz in Russia. In addition, Banes explores such untraditional performance modes as breakdancing and the "drunk dancing" of Fred Astaire.

Ebook Edition Note: All images have been redacted.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. c-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix-ix


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p. x-x

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Preface to the Wesleyan Paperback Edition

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pp. xi-xii

I WROTE Terpsichore in Sneakers during the years 1973-78. When I began the book, the term "post-modern" was rarely used to categorize the kind of dance I was writing about, though by the time the book was done, the term was much more common in dance, as well as in other arts. However, since the book was published, in 1980, "post-modern" has become a term that obsesses...

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Introduction to the Wesleyan Paperback Edition

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pp. xiii-xl

WHEN YVONNE RAINER started using the term "post-modern"' in the early 1960s to categorize the work she and her peers were doing at Judson Church and other places, she meant it in a primarily chronological sense. Theirs was the generation that came after modern dance, which was itself originally an inclusive term applied to nearly any theatrical dance that...

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Introduction: Sources of Post-Modern Dance

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pp. 1-20

TO AMERICANS today, modern art already seems old-fashioned. By the middle of the twentieth century, the modern novel, painting, sculpture, and music had reached their heights, and a new generation of writers, artists, and composers — as well as of critics — was facing a crisis of form and content at the very root of the arts. The same was true of modern dance — a term...

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Simone Forti: Dancing as if Newborn

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pp. 21-37

THE ORDINARY ADULT body is a creature of habit, unconscious responses to physical stimuli, unadventurous routines. For the most part, we travel in a kinesthetic rut, never even noticing the remarkably intricate changes that happen when we walk or run, reach up, sit, or lie down. We rarely experiment with these familiar actions, once we have mastered them. To take notice...

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Simone Forti, Animal Stories

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pp. 38-40

Two chimps in a cage have a system worked out. A kind of music and dance which keeps them shifting around within earshot out of each other's way, a song and dance of protocol. There's pounding but never more than one hit or two at once, swinging from above arm over arm, changing location from the outside cage to the inside, and out again by turns avoiding each other, one...

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Yvonne Rainer: The Aesthetics of Denial

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pp. 41-54

YVONNE RAINER was the most prolific and polemical of the Judson Dance Theater choreographers. She was championed by Jill Johnston as the exemplar of post-modern choreography, and frequently, to her own displeasure, the post-modern movement with all its diversity of interests, styles, and methods was collapsed by the public into a single enterprise with Rainer in...

Yvonne Rainer, Chart from "A Quasi Survey of Some 'Minimalist' Tendencies in the Quantitatively Minimal Dance Activity Midst the Plethora, or an Analysis of Trio A"

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pp. 55-56

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Steve Paxton: Physical Things

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pp. 57-70

STEVE PAXTON makes dances about ordinary, physical things. Ironically, in their close attention to pedestrian activities and the bodies of everyday people, the dances have at times served extraordinary functions; they have assaulted theatrical conventions, commented on the history of dance and questioned its aims, examined social hierarchies and political acts. In his early...

Steve Paxton, Satisfyin Lover

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pp. 71-76

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Trisha Brown: Gravity and Levity

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pp. 77-91

TRISHA BROWN had a normal outdoors childhood in Aberdeen, Washington, including tree climbing and football playing. Her dance teacher, Marion Hageage, "organized my bony knees and adolescent mind through tap, ballet and acrobatics which developed into jazz routines in high school assemblies."1 She went on to study modern dance at Mills College and at the...

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Trisha Brown, Skymap

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pp. 92-96

The words that I am speaking are coming up through a small hole in the floor of the auditorium and following each other one by one around the room, eventually tracing out a map of the United States, including Aberdeen, Chicago, Oakland, and San Antonio. Those words having difficulty keeping up with the others are being helped by invisible gnomes. Those words who refuse...

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David Gordon: The Ambiguities

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pp. 97-108

DAVID GORDON'S work over the past eighteen years has been concerned with finding structures for framing the individual, fleeting act. In one sense, he views choreography as self-defense: since the ideology of modern dance has always promoted tolerance for individual performance styles and body structures, it can be forced to make room for those dancers whose...

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David Gordon, Response

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pp. 109-112

Writing about someone's life, in relationship to their work, leaves out the days, the weeks when nothing was happening, or when nothing good was happening. Or the times when one doubted. Or the times when one doubted everyone else. The lows seem not to have existed and the great highs seem somehow flatter than they were. Example: "Inventing new systems for ordering...

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Deborah Hay: The Cosmic Dance

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pp. 113-127

DEBORAH HAY'S choreography during the 1960s and '70s has evolved from theatrical to social to almost sacred dancing. In her early dances, she stressed the raw physicality of pure movement, contrasting natural, pedestrian locomotion like running, walking, or ordinary jumping with abstract dance-technical steps. Later, her reductionism led to simple, natural movements...

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Deborah Hay, Excerpts from The Grand Dance

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pp. 128-132

There is only one way to do The Grand Dance and that is completely. The focus is consciousness; without it there is very little to experience. It is like the bowing we just did. You are either bowing or you are not bowing. There is no halfway. Harness your attention, your energy, so that you do not wander. You will, so don't be hard on yourself for leaving. This is the nature of...

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Lucinda Childs: The Act of Seeing

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pp. 133-145

LUCINDA CHILDS grew up in New York City and began taking dance classes when she was six. But her ambition was to become an actress, not a dancer, and at eleven she started concentrating seriously on dramatic training. She resumed dancing when she was fifteen, studying at the Hanya Holm School. The following summer she went to Colorado to take classes from Tamiris,...

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Lucinda Childs, Street Dance

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pp. 146-148

(At Robert Rauschenberg's studio, fall 1965, dialogue on tape.)
To see this dance the observer must stand by the window at the south end of the loft and look across the street toward the south side of Broadway onto the sidewalk extending between llth and 12th streets.
I am concerned with the area between the Bon Vivant Delicacies Store and...

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Meredith Monk: Homemade Metaphors

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pp. 149-165

MEREDITH MONK'S theater is a place of transmutation and transfiguration. Events occur, but their meanings shift and are wiped away. Time and space become shattered and rearranged. Objects shrink or become luminous and powerful. Inside the magically real universes that Monk creates within the borders of theatrical space, simple and familiar things accumulate...

Meredith Monk, Notes on the Voice

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pp. 166-168

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Kenneth King: Being Dancing Beings

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pp. 169-183

IT SEEMS THAT Kenneth King sees life as an enormous puzzle, a set of interlocking mysteries that provides endless discovery and systematic contemplation. One of the parts of the puzzle is dancing, an activity that continually presents clues to be tracked down, information to be further analyzed and investigated. As in a set of Russian dolls, inside dancing are more...

Kenneth King, from Print-Out

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pp. 184-186

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Douglas Dunn: Cool Symmetries

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pp. 187-199

DOUGLAS DUNN'S oeuvre is small but beautiful. He has made seven major pieces since leaving Merce Cunningham's company where he danced from 1969 to 1973. Four of the works are solos and three are group pieces. Besides dancing with Cunningham, Dunn danced with Yvonne Rainer from 1968-1970, and for six years (1970-1976) was part of The Grand Union....

Douglas Dunn, "Talking Dancing"

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pp. 200-202

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The Grand Union: The Presentation of Everyday Life as Dance

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pp. 203-218

THE GRAND UNION was a collective of choreographer/performers who during the years 1970 to 1976 made group improvisations embracing dance, theater, and theatrics in an ongoing investigation into the nature of dance and performance. The Grand Union's identity as a group had several sources: some of the nine who were its members at different points had...

The Grand Union, Q & A

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pp. 219-236


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pp. 237-244

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 245-253


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pp. 254-262


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pp. 263-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780819571809
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819561602

Page Count: 311
Publication Year: 2011