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Dancing between Myth and Reality

By Anita González

This study of African-based dance in Mexico explores the influence of African people and their cultural productions on Mexican society, showing how dance can embody social histories and relationships.

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Antonia Mercé, “LaArgentina”

Flamenco and the Spanish Avant Garde

Ninotchka Bennahum

Antonia Mercé, stage-named La Argentina, was the most celebrated Spanish dancer of the early 20th century. Her intensive musical and theatrical collaborations with members of the Spanish vanguard -- Manuel de Falla, Frederico García Lorca, Enrique Granados, Néstor de la Torre, Joaquín Nín, and with renowned Andalusian Gypsy dancers -- reflect her importance as an artistic symbol for contemporary Spain and its cultural history. When she died in 1936, newspapers around the world mourned the passing of the "Flamenco Pavlova."

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Appalachian Dance

Creativity and Continuity in Six Communities

Susan Eike Spalding

In Appalachian Dance Susan Eike Spalding employs twenty-five years' worth of rich interviews with black and white Virginians, Tennesseeans, and Kentuckians to explore the evolution and social uses of dance practices in each region. Spalding analyzes how issues as disparate as industrialization around coal, race relations, and the 1970s folk revival profoundly influenced freestyle clogging and other dance forms. She reveals how African Americans and Native Americans, as well as European immigrants drawn to the timber mills and coal fields, added to local dance vocabularies. By placing each community in its sociopolitical and economic context, Spalding explores how the formal and stylistic nuances found in Appalachian dance reflect the beliefs, shared understandings, and experiences of the community at large.

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Balanchine the Teacher

Fundamentals That Shaped the First Generation of New York City Ballet Dancers

Barbara Walczak and Una Kai

Widely regarded as the foremost choreographer of contemporary ballet, George Balanchine was, and continues to be, an institution and major inspiration in the world of dance.

Balanchine the Teacher is a technical explanation of the stylistic approaches that he taught in New York City between 1940 and 1960, as recorded by two prominent dancers who studied with him at that time. This phenomenal resource replicates moments in the studio with the influential teacher, vividly and meticulously describing his instructions and corrections for twenty-four classes.

These lessons not only introduce Balanchine’s methods for executing steps but also discuss the organization and development of his classes, shedding light on the aesthetics of his unique and celebrated style of movement. This is an indispensable ballet resource and a must-read for dancers, musicians, researchers, and balletomanes.

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Ballet and Opera in the Age of "Giselle"

Marian Smith

Marian Smith recaptures a rich period in French musical theater when ballet and opera were intimately connected. Focusing on the age of Giselle at the Paris Opéra (from the 1830s through the 1840s), Smith offers an unprecedented look at the structural and thematic relationship between the two genres. She argues that a deeper understanding of both ballet and opera--and of nineteenth-century theater-going culture in general--may be gained by examining them within the same framework instead of following the usual practice of telling their histories separately. This handsomely illustrated book ultimately provides a new portrait of the Opéra during a period long celebrated for its box-office successes in both genres.

Smith begins by showing how gestures were encoded in the musical language that composers used in ballet and in opera. She moves on to a wide range of topics, including the relationship between the gestures of the singers and the movements of the dancers, and the distinction between dance that represents dancing (entertainment staged within the story of the opera) and dance that represents action. Smith maintains that ballet-pantomime and opera continued to rely on each other well into the nineteenth century, even as they thrived independently. The "divorce" between the two arts occurred little by little, and may be traced through unlikely sources: controversies in the press about the changing nature of ballet-pantomime music, shifting ideas about originality, complaints about the ridiculousness of pantomime, and a little-known rehearsal score for Giselle.

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Ballet Pedagogy

The Art of Teaching

Rory Foster

There are many different methods for teaching classical ballet--Bournonville, Vaganova, Cecchetti, and Royal Academy of Dancing being the most widely known. All of these methods are effective tools for presenting the technique and art of ballet. Knowing how to use these tools successfully requires more than being a devotee of the technique; it also requires the mastering of various skills.

In Ballet Pedagogy, Rory Foster aims to share his extensive knowledge of how to teach rather than focus exclusively on what to teach. He argues that it is not enough for a ballet teacher to be well trained in technique, but that he or she must also know how to utilize pedagogical skills.

Designed as both a manual for beginning teachers as well as a reference for experienced instructors, Ballet Pedagogy is appropriate for either followers of a single methodology or for those who have adopted a more eclectic approach to technique. Foster believes that effective teaching skills--proper demonstration, counting, correcting, musicality, anatomical approach, etc.--do not come automatically just because one has trained as a dancer.

In this book, Foster--an expert in multiple ballet methods--covers all areas involving dance, from history to injury prevention, from anatomy and kinesiology to vocabulary and music. He even offers pragmatic advice on the business of starting a dance school. The result is an essential addition to every dance teacher's library.

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Before, Between, and Beyond

Three Decades of Dance Writing

Sally Banes; Edited and with an introduction by Andrea Harris

     Sally Banes has been a preeminent critic and scholar of American contemporary dance, and Before, Between, Beyond spans more than thirty years of her prolific work. Beginning with her first published review and including previously unpublished papers, this collection presents some of her finest works on dance and other artistic forms. It concludes with her most recent research on Geroge Balanchine's dancing elephants. In each piece, Banes's detailed eye and sensual prose strike a rare balance between description, context, and opinion, delineating the American artistic scene with remarkable grace. With contextualizing essays by dance scholars Andrea Harris, Joan Acocella, and Lynn Garafola, this is a compelling, insightful indispensable summation of Banes's critical career.

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Between Dancing and Writing

The Practice of Religious Studies

Kimerer LaMothe

This book provides philosophical grounds for an emerging area of scholarship: the study of religion and dance. In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religious life. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the study of religion,on the one hand, and theology,on the other.In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religious life, and on the place of theology in the study of religion.

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The Body of the People

East German Dance since 1945

Jens Richard Giersdorf

The Body of the People is the first comprehensive study of dance and choreography in East Germany. More than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jens Richard Giersdorf investigates a national dance history in the German Democratic Republic, from its founding as a Communist state that supplanted the Soviet zone of occupation in 1949 through the aftermath of its collapse forty years later, examining complex themes of nationhood, ideology, resistance, and diaspora through an innovative mix of archival research, critical theory, personal narrative, and performance analysis.
    Giersdorf looks closely at uniquely East German dance forms—including mass exercise events, national folk dances, Marxist-Leninist visions staged by the dance ensemble of the armed forces, the vast amateur dance culture, East Germany’s version of Tanztheater, and socialist alternatives to rock ‘n’ roll—to demonstrate how dance was used both as a form of corporeal utopia and of embodied socialist propaganda and indoctrination. The Body of the People also explores the artists working in the shadow of official culture who used dance and movement to critique and resist state power, notably Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Arila Siegert, and Fine Kwiatkowski. Giersdorf considers a myriad of embodied responses to the Communist state even after reunification, analyzing the embodiment of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the works of Jo Fabian and Sasha Waltz, and the diasporic traces of East German culture abroad, exemplified by the Chilean choreographer Patricio Bunster.

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Butch Queens Up in Pumps

Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit

Marlon M. Bailey

Butch Queens Up in Pumps examines Ballroom culture, in which inner-city LGBT individuals dress, dance, and vogue to compete for prizes and trophies. Participants are affiliated with a house, an alternative family structure typically named after haute couture designers and providing support to this diverse community. Marlon M. Bailey’s rich first-person performance ethnography of the Ballroom scene in Detroit examines Ballroom as a queer cultural formation that upsets dominant notions of gender, sexuality, kinship, and community.

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