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The Day the Dancers Stayed: Performing in the Filipino/American Diaspora

Pilipino Cultural Nights at American campuses have been a rite of passage for youth culture and a source of local community pride since the 1980s. Through performances—and parodies of them—these celebrations of national identity through music, dance, and theatrical narratives reemphasize what it means to be Filipino American. In The Day the Dancers Stayed, scholar and performer Theodore Gonzalves uses interviews and participant observer techniques to consider the relationship between the invention of performance repertoire and the development of diasporic identification.

Gonzalves traces a genealogy of performance repertoire from the 1930s to the present. Culture nights serve several functions: as exercises in nostalgia, celebrations of rigid community entertainment, and occasionally forums for political intervention. Taking up more recent parodies of Pilipino Cultural Nights, Gonzalves discusses how the rebellious spirit that enlivened the original seditious performances has been stifled.

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Directing the Dance Legacy of Doris Humphrey

The Creative Impulse of Reconstruction

Lesley Main

Directing the Dance Legacy of Doris Humphrey looks inside four of Doris Humphrey’s major choreographic works—Water Study (1928), The Shakers (1931), With My Red Fires (1936), and Passacaglia (1938)—with an eye to how directorial strategies applied in recent contemporized stagings in the United States and Europe could work across the modern and contemporary dance genre. Author Lesley Main, a seasoned practitioner of Doris Humphrey choreography, stresses to the reader the need to balance respect for classical works from the modern dance repertory with the necessity for fresh directorial strategies, to balance between traditional practices and a creative role for the reconstructor.
    Drawing upon her own dance experience, Main’s book addresses an area of dance research and practice that is becoming increasingly pertinent as the dancer-choreographers of the 20th century modern and contemporary dance are no longer alive to attend to the re-stagings of the body of their works. Insightful and thought-provoking, Directing the Dance Legacy of Doris Humphrey calls for the creation of new forms of directorial practice in dance beyond reconstruction. The radical new practices it proposes to replace the old are sure to spark debate and fresh thinking across the dance field.

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Don't Act, Just Dance

The Metapolitics of Cold War Culture

Catherine Gunther Kodat

At some point in their career, nearly all the dancers who worked with George Balanchine were told “don’t act, dear; just dance.” The dancers understood this as a warning against melodramatic over-interpretation and an assurance that they had all the tools they needed to do justice to the steps—but its implication that to dance is already to act in a manner both complete and sufficient resonates beyond stage and studio. 

Drawing on fresh archival material, Don’t Act, Just Dance places dance at the center of the story of the relationship between Cold War art and politics. Catherine Gunther Kodat takes Balanchine’s catch phrase as an invitation to explore the politics of Cold War culture—in particular, to examine the assumptions underlying the role of “apolitical” modernism in U.S. cultural diplomacy. Through close, theoretically informed readings of selected important works—Marianne Moore’s “Combat Cultural,” dances by George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, and Yuri Grigorovich, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, and John Adams’s Nixon in China—Kodat questions several commonly-held beliefs about the purpose and meaning of modernist cultural productions during the Cold War. 

Rather than read the dance through a received understanding of Cold War culture, Don’t Act, Just Dance reads Cold War culture through the dance, and in doing so establishes a new understanding of the politics of modernism in the arts of the period. 

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Done into Dance

Isadora Duncan in America

Ann Daly

This cultural study of modern dance icon Isadora Duncan is the first to place her within the thought, politics and art of her time. Duncan's dancing earned her international fame and influenced generations of American girls and women, yet the romantic myth that surrounds her has left some questions unanswered: What did her audiences see on stage, and how did they respond? What dreams and fears of theirs did she play out? Why, in short, was Duncan's dancing so compelling? First published in 1995 and now back in print, Done into Dance reveals Duncan enmeshed in social and cultural currents of her time -- the moralism of the Progressive Era, the artistic radicalism of prewar Greenwich Village, the xenophobia of the 1920s, her association with feminism and her racial notion of "Americanness."

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Dramaturgy in Motion

At Work on Dance and Movement Performance

Katherine Profeta

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Dying Swans and Madmen

Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema

Adrienne L. McLean

From mid-twentieth-century films such as Grand Hotel, Waterloo Bridge, and The Red Shoes to recent box-office hits including Billy Elliot, Save the Last Dance, and The Company, ballet has found its way, time and again, onto the silver screen and into the hearts of many otherwise unlikely audiences. In Dying Swans and Madmen, Adrienne L. McLean explores the curious pairing of classical and contemporary, art and entertainment, high culture and popular culture to reveal the ambivalent place that this art form occupies in American life.Drawing on examples that range from musicals to tragic melodramas, she shows how commercial films have produced an image of ballet and its artists that is associated both with joy, fulfillment, fame, and power and with sexual and mental perversity, melancholy, and death. Although ballet is still received by many with a lack of interest or outright suspicion, McLean argues that these attitudes as well as ballet's popularity and its acceptability as a way of life and a profession have often depended on what audiences first learned about it from the movies.

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The Eloquent Body

Dance and Humanist Culture in Fifteenth-Century Italy

Jennifer Nevile

"This book adds an entirely new dimension to the consideration of Humanism and Italian culture. It will make a welcome addition to the field of cultural studies by broadening the subject to consider an important source of information that has been previously overlooked." -- Timothy McGee

The Eloquent Body offers a history and analysis of court dancing during the Renaissance, within the context of Italian Humanism. Each chapter addresses different philosophical, social, or intellectual aspects of dance during the 15th century. Some topics include issues of economic class, education, and power; relating dance treatises to the ideals of Humanism and the meaning of the arts; ideas of the body as they relate to elegance, nobility, and ethics; the intellectual history of dance based on contemporaneous readings of Pythagoras and Plato; and a comparison of geometric dance structures to geometric order in Humanist architecture.

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Engaging Bodies

The Politics and Poetics of Corporeality

Ann Cooper Albright

For twenty-five years, Ann Cooper Albright has been exploring the intersection of cultural representation and somatic identity in dance. For Albright, dancing is a physical inquiry, a way of experiencing and participating in the world, and her writing reflects an interdisciplinary approach to seeing and thinking about dance. In her engagement as both a dancer and a scholar, Albright draws on her kinesthetic sensibilities as well as her intellectual knowledge to articulate how movement creates meaning. Throughout Engaging Bodies movement and ideas lean on one another to produce a critical theory anchored in the material reality of dancing bodies. This blend of cultural theory and personal circumstance will be useful and inspiring for emerging scholars and dancers looking for a model of writing about dance that thrives on the interconnectedness of watching and doing, gesture and thought.

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Fernando Alonso

The Father of Cuban Ballet

Toba Singer

Written records of Alonso’s work are scarce, yet Toba Singer’s quest to spotlight his seminal role in the development of the modern ballet canon yields key material: pre-blockade tapes from Lincoln Center, Spanish-language sources from the Museum of Dance in Havana, and interviews with the ballet master himself alongside a broad range of friends, relatives, and collaborators from throughout his long career, including his ex-wife, Alicia, a famous ballerina in her own right.

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Fields in Motion

Ethnography in the Worlds of Dance

Fields in Motion: Ethnography in the Worlds of Dance examines the deeper meanings and resonances of artistic dance in contemporary culture. The book comprises four sections: methods and methodologies, autoethnography, pedagogies and creative processes, and choreographies as cultural and spiritual representations. The contributors bring an insiders insight to their accounts of the nature and function of these artistic practices, giving voice to dancers, dance teachers, creators, programmers, spectators, students, and scholars.

International and intergenerational, this collection of groundbreaking scholarly research points to a new direction for both dance studies and dance anthropology. Traditionally the exclusive domain of aesthetic philosophers, the art of dance is here reframed as cultural practice, and its significance is revealed through a chorus of voices from practitioners and insider ethnographers.

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