The Politics and Poetics of Corporeality
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Wesleyan University Press
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Although it represents a quarter-century of writing on dance, this collection evolved over a period of two years. it began during the time i was work-ing on a contribution to a special issue of Dance Research Journal focused on critical reappraisals of dance and phenomenology. That piece, “Situated Dancing: notes from Three Decades in Contact with Phenomenology,” traces ...
Introduction: Situated Dancing
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...i began to study philosophy at the same time that i began to study dance, at college in the early 1980s. Both of these choices surprised me at f_irst, as i had originally planned on studying politics and becoming a civil-rights lawyer after college. i see now that these two areas of inquiry were routes towards f_iguring out how to bridge the divides between my academic self ...
I PERFORMANCE WRITINGS
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...i f_irst started to write dance reviews for a small community news-paper in Philadelphia. later, as an M.scF.scA.sc student at Temple University, i persuaded the chair to let me launch a departmental newsletter called “Dance Dialogues,” which included interviews with guest artists and short reviews of local performances. When i moved to new York City ...
1 Pooh Kaye and Eccentric Motions
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Pooh Kaye uses “play” in her performances with conscious intent. in a re-cent interview, she stated, “Play creates an emotional and immediate re-sponse which requires a different way of looking at dance. if the critics were to deal with it seriously, they would realize it is a radical, political notion—a challenge to traditional ways of structuring art.” in the evening of dance ...
2 Johanna Boyce
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Johanna Boyce’s Raising Voice, a brilliant revisionist version of handel’s hallelujah Chorus, opens with a “family portrait” of a group of diverse women: construction worker, preppy businesswoman, East European peas-ant, East Village new Yorker. Although their body sizes, hair styles, and clothing preferences differ markedly, these twelve women are joined in a ...
3 Improvisations by Simone Forti and Pooh Kaye
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Second Annual Festival of Women improvisers, Kraine gallery, new York City, Blood on the Saddle. Choreographed by Jennifer Monson in collaboration with Zeena Active Graphics II and Tangled Graphics. Choreographed by Pooh Kaye. Performed by Eccentric Motions. The Kitchen, new York City, December 5, 1987.There is a f_inish on most dancing these days. highly aerobic, polished, and ...
4 Song of Lawino
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Directed by Valeria Vasilevski and choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. Aaron Davis hall, City University of new York, new York, January 5–8, 1989.There is an intriguing, almost eerie mesh of self and other, community and dissent in the dance/theatre piece Song of Lawino. As i walked from the lobby, which was f_illed with people greeting, hugging, and chattering away, ...
5 Joseph Holmes, Sizzle and Heat
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...i went to the Joseph holmes Chicago Dance Theater’s January 24 perfor-mance at the ohio Theater in Cleveland with two goals: i wanted to enjoy some high-powered dancing, and i wanted to start to think about the con-nections between the genre of modern jazz and the politics of a marketing strategy that focuses on the “sheer sizzle” and “heat” of this “multiracial” ...
6 Performing across Identity
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...“Performance gave me a vocabulary and a syntax to express the processes of Who am i? is a complex question for minority performance artists work-ing amid the cultural rubble of the late twentieth century. Splayed between different communities, these artists must negotiate a minef_ield of strategic allegiances and shifting identities. Although “ethnic” forms of artistic and ...
7 In Dialogue with Firebird
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With its powerful combination of visual and romantic subtexts, the pas de deux is the cornerstone of classical ballet. Traditionally, this duet sequence is marked by an elaborate attention to the ballerina. The male dancer partners the female dancer so as to display her technique; his steady hand helps her extend into an arabesque and his lifts help sustain the illusion of her ephem-...
8 Dancing Bodies and the Stories They Tell
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The one, overwhelming image i have of la la la human Steps’ multi-media extravaganza is of louise lecavalier f_lying through the air like a human torpedo. She gets caught by another dancer, thrashes around with him for a while, then vaults right out of his arms and halfway across the stage, only to rebound back into his face. Two minutes and who knows how ...
9 Embodying History: The New Epic Dance
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...garth Fagan and Bill T. Jones are both African-American choreographers working within a genre of contemporary performance that i think of as the “new Epic Dance.” garth Fagan’s Griot New York and Bill T. Jones’s Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land are two evening-length works that explore various facets of their own cultural heritages, ref_iguring ...
10 Desire and Control: Performing Bodies in the Age of AIDS
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At the post-performance discussion of choreographer Elizabeth Streb and her company ringside’s recent performance in Cleveland on January 19 and 20 at the ohio Theater, an audience member asked the dancers what their physical training regimes consisted of. Actually, the question went some-thing like this: how did you get so built-up? now, Elizabeth Streb and her ...
II FEMINIST THEORIES
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This section contains some of my earliest theoretical writings in which i read late twentieth-century dancing through the lenses of feminist f_ilm theory and feminist literary criticism. These critical perspectives on language and image taught my generation of dance scholars to move beyond traditional analyses of movement style or compositional ...
11 Mining the Dancefield: Spectacle, Moving Subjects, and Feminist Theory
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...in her f_ilm The Man Who Envied Women, Yvonne rainer steers clear of a troublesome pothole in feminist f_ilm theory—that of imaging a female body—by simply removing the visual presence of her main female character. Trisha appears to the audience through another kind of presence—that of her voice. Sometimes her voice is the f_ilm’s conscience—a sort of distant ...
12 Writing the Moving Body: Nancy Stark Smith and the Hieroglyphs
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...now more aware of the empty space we are replacing with every splash of ink on the page, [we f_ind] yet another expression of the awkward movement through a forest of words toward a clearing that might be found waiting in Estranged from language, women are visionaries, dancers who suffer as they in 1980, when i was taking dance classes in Paris at the Centre interna-...
13 Auto-Body Stories: Blondell Cummings and Autobiography in Dance
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Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance, ed. Jane Desmond (1997).As i advance in these memoirs, i realize more and more the impossibility of writing one’s life—or rather, the lives of all the different people i have been. incidents which seemed to me to last a lifetime have taken only a few pages: intervals that seemed thousands of years of suffering and pain and through ...
14 Femininity with a Vengeance: Strategies of Veiling and Unveiling in Loïe Fuller’s Performances of Salomé
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Traces of Light: Absence and Presence in the Work of Loïe Fuller (2007).To put on femininity with a vengeance suggests the power of taking it off.—M.scary R.scusso, “F.scemale G.scrotesq.scues: C.scarnival and T.sch.sceory”in a move that seems to be universally interpreted as a big mistake, loïe Fuller produced her own version of the Salome myth in 1895 and cast ...
III DANCING HISTORIES
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My f_irst brush with dance history was learning that my mother took Duncan dancing classes at Bryn Mawr College—an all-women’s col-lege with a long history of modern dance—where both she and i went to school. Although i did not want to dance like isadora Duncan, read-ing her autobiography My Life and seeing old college photos of young ...
15 The Long Afternoon of a Faun: Reconstructions and Discourses of Desire
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Talk given at Dance Reconstructed, the Society of Dance history Scholars conference, given the panels and discussions during this conference entitled Dance Re-constructed, it is perhaps absurdly redundant to begin this paper with the claim that dance is a historical phenomenon. Yet it is precisely in this con-ference that the self-evident logic of this statement has raised important and ...
16 Embodying History: Epic Narrative and Cultural Identity in African-American Dance
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From Moving History/Dancing Cultures, ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright (2001).What would it mean to reinscribe history through one’s body? What would it mean to re-create the story of a life and the history of a people? How does one rewrite the history of slavery, the history of faith, the history of a past in order to project the story of our future? How can we reenvision the ...
17 Matters of Tact: Writing History from the Inside Out
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...long before i became a committed academic, long before i was a college professor teaching dance history, long before terminal degrees and profes-sional titles, i chanced upon an exhibition of early dance photographs at the rodin Museum in Paris. i bought the small catalogue, and from time to time i would page through the striking black-and-white images searching for ...
18 The Tanagra Effect: Wrapping the Modern Body in the Folds of Ancient Greece
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From The Ancient Dancer in the Modern World, ed. Fiona Macintosh (2010).At the turn of the twentieth century, to put one’s body on display as a specta-cle and still claim subjectivity onstage was a diff_icult and complex balancing act for a female performer. Equally diff_icult for a woman was claiming au-thority as “writer,” particularly if she had been known as a performer.1 re-...
IV CONTACT IMPROVISATION
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Contact improvisation is one of the main reasons i devoted my life to dancing. i took a series of contact classes during my college days and was immediately hooked. The range of physical possibilities combined with the improvisational impulse in this form of kinesthetic partnering spoke to my desire for feisty, anything goes, movement. in addition, the ...
19 A Particular History: Contact Improvisation at Oberlin College
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...given as a talk at the Society of Dance history Scholars conference, June 1999As i write this, i am sitting in the middle of an empty wooden space, the smell of which is intensif_ied by the heat on this summer afternoon. Today the space feels like a big attic—old, woody, slightly airless—one whose con-tents have evaporated over time so that only the dust, memories, and ghosts ...
20 Open Bodies: (X)changes of Identity in Capoeira and Contact Improvisation
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A lone dancer enters the circle, first crawling, then rolling and finally waltz-ing toward the center. He almost trips, turns and then stops, looking around and catching someone’s—anyone’s—eye. Another dancer accepts this silent invitation and enters the dance, bursting in like a meteor spinning through a galaxy. He launches his body into a furious series of movements. Some ...
21 Present Tense: Contact Improvisation at Twenty-five
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From Taken by Surprise: Improvisation in Dance and Mind, ed. Ann Cooper Albright When people ask me how C.scI25 went, there is one moment i love to de-scribe. it is when i walked back into the main dance studio in oberlin Col-lege at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning and, much to my delight, saw over sixty sweaty people dancing in the space, with another f_ifty-some bodies scattered ...
22 Feeling In and Out: Contact Improvisation and the Politics of Empathy
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Talk for the Kinesthesia and Empathy in Dance conference, part of the languages of in his poetic short essay on rembrandt’s paintings, art critic John Berger traces the differences between the artist’s drawings and his paintings, par-ticularly the late portraits. Whereas in his drawings rembrandt is a master of proportion, in his paintings this realistic perspective is radically altered. ...
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...i have always tried to be thoughtful about my teaching, which spans a wide range of theoretical and practical classes both in and out of the academy. As ref_lected in most of the writings collected here, i have spent much of my life intentionally drawing connections between our physical experiences and (meta)physical responses, recognizing that ...
23 Dancing across Difference: Experience and Identity in the Classroom
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The lights fade up slowly, creating a diagonal pathway and gradually illumi-nating two figures leaning—shoulder to shoulder—on one another. As they advance into the light, that physical connectedness shifts across their backs and over the other shoulder until they are standing chest to chest, their heads leaning on one another’s shoulders. This image of a human bridge ...
24 Channeling the Other: An Embodied Approach to Teaching across Cultures
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The potent intersection of dance theory and cultural studies has contrib-uted to a much needed theorization of embodiment (the processes by which cultural values are internalized and represented by social bodies), and has led to an increasingly sophisticated elucidation of cultural difference within the dance f_ield. This discourse of difference has helped dance scholars and ...
25 Training Bodies to Matter
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This essay traces three different pedagogical situations in which i try to shift what i see as the negative corporeal dynamics of our contemporary moment, one body at a time. Drawing examples from my experiences with the body-to-body interactions of contact improvisation—the dance form that f_irst brought me into dance thirty years ago—Bridging the Body/Mind ...
VI OCCASIONAL PIECES
This section’s title comes from that of a folder on my computer where i store presentations, papers, articles, book reviews, and essays that i have produced for very specif_ic occasions. These could be an invitation to write something for an anthology, or a request that i speak at a con-ference, or contribute to a thematic issue of a journal. These pieces are ...
26 The Mesh in the Mess
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Out of the silence, her small, lithe body shotputs into a mass of shiny build-ing blocks. Still, but alert and ready to move, she crouches with her head cocked, listening to sounds from a distant world, a jungle world. Always close to the ground, this tiny figure in white stands out against the huge, still, black emptiness of the space all around her. Moving tentatively at first, she ...
27 Through Yours to Mine and Back Again: Reflections on Bodies in Motion
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I T.scH.scIN.scK.sc B.scE.scC.scA.scU.scS.scE.sc I C.scA.scR.scE.sc . . .Twenty years ago, most dancers, when asked what the medium of dance is, would probably have replied “movement” or perhaps “movements of the human body.” in those heady days of abstraction and anarchy, the body was recognized as a wonderful source of movement possibilities. The 1970s ...
28 Physical Mindfulness
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The f_irst year i realized i would be dancing for the rest of my life was when i was a junior in college. i was living in Paris for the year and searching for a dance studio where dance was more than a form of body-toning exercise. Although i was not very f_luent in French yet, i knew i was interested in what the French called danse expressive. it seemed like a pretty old- fashioned ...
29 Researching Bodies: The Politics and Poetics of Corporeality
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Movement research was founded on a tension. A tension that has remained embedded in this organization for most of its twenty-f_ive-year history. At times, this tension has been incredibly productive; but it also has been fre-quently ignored, like an irksome old injury one hopes will go away on its own. Thinking about what i might contribute to this issue of the journal ...
30 Strategic Abilities: Negotiating the Disabled Body in Dance
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The dance’s opening image of a naked back in a backless wheelchair haunted me long before I ever choreographed the piece. Indeed, it was the power of this image—its visual and physical effect on me—that gave me the courage both to create a performance about the undoing of my life as I knew it and to stage it in the middle of a dance concert. Through this process of perform-...
31 Dancing in and out of Africa
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The photograph was striking, no doubt about it: a black man in prof_ile, his eyes squinting into the sun, his mouth open, his dreadlocks spouting out of the ponytail on top of his head. The bareness of his neck and shoulders, combined with the urban trendiness of his coiffure placed him as the synec-doche for the ninth international Festival of new Dance in Montreal (F.scIN.scD.sc) ...
32 Rates of Exchange
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Movement (R)evolution conference, University of Florida, Spring 2004.on January 18, 2004, my father died. i begin this essay by evoking his death, not in order to gain sympathy, nor even to create a personal and rhe-torical bridge to the question of burial in Antigone, but rather to provoke a ref_lection on the limits of visibility. As anyone who has ever lost an import-...
33 Moving Contexts: Dance and Difference in the Twenty-first Century
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Intercultural Communication and Creative Practice: Music, Dance, and Women’s it is a balmy summer evening as i emerge from The Sensuous and the Sacred exhibit of Chola Bronzes at the Cleveland Museum of Art. These ancient bronze images of deities call forth my memories of sacred statues and richly decorated shrines in the south of india, where i traveled to teach and lec-...
34 Three Beginnings and a Manifesto
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...it is mid-August and i am sitting on a porch by a lake in Maine. i am here at Bearnstow—a dance retreat run by ruth grauer and Bebe Miller in the good old modern style of combining nature and art. The sun has just come out after two days of heavy rain; interrupting my thoughts on the history and future of dance studies with the seduction of a fresh day. i catch myself ...
35 Improvisation as Radical Politics
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...if richard Bull and Cynthia Jean Cohen Bull (that is, Cynthia novack) were both alive and dancing these troubled days, they would no doubt be re-sponding to the current political crisis by staging an evening of improvi-sational dance at their Warren Street Performance loft in downtown new York City. Maybe their traditional Saturday-evening performance would be ...
36 Space and Subjectivity
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...in her seminal essay, “Throwing like a girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Bodily Comportment, Motility, and Spatiality” (1980), feminist philoso-pher iris Marion Young connects female bodily uses of space and force to women’s social status. Attending to the intricacies of embodied experience, Young identif_ies three traditional modalities of women’s physical being in ...
37 Strategic Practices
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...improvisation is an elusive subject. Despite much late twentieth-century and early twenty-f_irst-century dancing being deeply intertwined with a va-riety of improvisational practices, there is a regrettable paucity of books dealing with this slippery and yet seductive topic. Even though there has been a veritable explosion of dance scholarship over the past three decades, ...
38 Resurrecting the Future: Body/Image/Technology
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...i feel compelled to begin with a confession. i am, by nature, a technophobe. Physically addicted to moving in real time and space, politically committed to supporting live performance, i tend to resist screens of all kinds. i mean it: i am so bad i still write f_irst drafts with a pen and paper. When i began my book on loïe Fuller, little did i imagine that the research for the last chap-...
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The expression, “fall from grace,” becomes an impossible statement when By the time she wrote these words as part of an editor’s note for the fall 1979 issue of Contact Quarterly, nancy Stark Smith had been practicing falling for seven years. From 1972 and the beginning performances of con-tact improvisation at the John Weber gallery in new York City until 1979, ...
40 The Tensions of Technē: On Heidegger and Screendance
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...i entered the Screendance network from a slightly oblique angle. on the one hand, i was more unschooled in contemporary examples of screendance than many of my colleagues, and i certainly was much less addicted to You-Tube searching and my computer in general. on the other hand, i came to the table with a curiosity about the historical and theoretical intersections ...
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Falling is predicated on a slippage through time and space. Marked by the trajectory between up and down as well as before and after, falling refers to what was while moving toward what will be. This is true whether you fall on ice or fall in love. Crossing over literal and metaphoric states of being in the world, falling opens a threshold between the past and the future. Falls ...
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This collection of my writing is dedicated to my students. in the two decades that i have been teaching at oberlin College, the students in my classes have jumped on me, rolled over me, pushed me, and resisted my weight in ways that ultimately supported the direction of my academic career. Throughout courses new and untested, or tried and true, they have always been accept-...
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The Cleveland Reader, “Joseph holmes, Sizzle and heat,” f_irst published in April/Contact Quarterly, “The Mesh in the Mess,” f_irst published in winter 1987, “Mining the Dancef_ield: Spectacle, Moving Subjects and Feminist Theory,” f_irst Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies, “Three Beginnings and a Man-ifesto by Ann Cooper Albright,” f_irst published in fall 2007. reprinted by ...
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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A dancer and scholar, Ann Cooper Albright is Professor and Chair of Dance at ober-lin College. Combining her interests in dancing and cultural theory, she is involved in teaching a variety of courses that seek to engage students in both practices and the-ories of the body. She is founder and director of Girls in Motion, an award winning afterschool program at langston Middle School and co-director of Accelerated Mo-...
Page Count: 408
Publication Year: 2013