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Electric Salome

Loie Fuller's Performance of Modernism

Rhonda K. Garelick

Loie Fuller was the most famous American in Europe throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rising from a small-time vaudeville career in the States, she attained international celebrity as a dancer, inventor, impresario, and one of the first women filmmakers in the world. Fuller befriended royalty and inspired artists such as Mallarmé, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Sarah Bernhardt, and Isadora Duncan. Today, though, she is remembered mainly as an untutored "pioneer" of modern dance and stage technology, the "electricity fairy" who created a sensation onstage whirling under colored spotlights. But in Rhonda Garelick's Electric Salome, Fuller finally receives her due as a major artist whose work helped lay a foundation for all modernist performance to come. The book demonstrates that Fuller was not a mere entertainer or precursor, but an artist of great psychological, emotional, and sexual expressiveness whose work illuminates the centrality of dance to modernism.

Electric Salome places Fuller in the context of classical and modern ballet, Art Nouveau, Orientalism, surrealism, the birth of cinema, American modern dance, and European drama. It offers detailed close readings of texts and performances, situated within broader historical, cultural, and theoretical frameworks. Accessibly written, the book also recounts the human story of how an obscure, uneducated woman from the dustbowl of the American Midwest moved to Paris, became a star, and lived openly for decades as a lesbian.

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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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Flowers Cracking Concrete

Eiko & Koma’s Asian/American Choreographies

Rosemary Candelario

Flowers Cracking Concrete is the first in-depth study of the forty-year career of Eiko & Koma—two artists from Japan who have lived and worked in New York City since the mid-1970s, establishing themselves as innovative and influential modern and postmodern dancers. They continue to choreograph, perform, and give workshops across the United States and around the world. Rosemary Candelario argues that what is remarkable about Eiko & Koma’s dances is not what they signify but rather what they do in the world. Each chapter of the book is a close reading of a specific dance that reveals a choreographic theme or concern. Drawing on interviews, live performance, videos, and reviews, Candelario demonstrates how ideas have kinesthetically and choreographically cycled through Eiko & Koma’s body of work, creating dances deeply engaged with the wider world through an active process of mourning, transforming, and connecting.

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Global Tarantella

Reinventing Southern Italian Folk Music and Dances

Incoronata Inserra

Tarantella, a genre of Southern Italian folk music and dance, is an international phenomenon--seen and heard in popular festivals, performed across the Italian diaspora, even adapted for New Age spiritual practices. The boom in popularity has diversified tarantella in practice while setting it within a host of new, unexpected contexts. Incoronata Inserra ventures into the history, global circulation, and recontextualization of this fascinating genre. Examining tarantella's changing image and role among Italians and Italian Americans, Inserra illuminates how factors like tourism, translation, and world music venues have shifted the ethics of place embedded in the tarantella cultural tradition. Once rural, religious, and rooted, tarantella now thrives in settings urban, secular, migrant, and ethnic. Inserra reveals how the genre's changing dynamics contribute to reimagining Southern Italian identity. At the same time, they translate tarantella into a different kind of performance that serves new social and cultural groups and purposes. Indeed, as Inserra shows, tarantella's global growth promotes a reassessment of gender relations in the Italian South and helps create space for Italian and Italian-American women to reclaim gendered aspects of the genre.

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Hiking the Horizontal

Field Notes from a Choreographer

Liz Lerman

The unique career of choreographer Liz Lerman has taken her from theater stages to shipyards, and from synagogues to science labs. In this wide-ranging collection of essays and articles, she reflects on her life-long exploration of dance as a vehicle for human insight and understanding of the world around us. Lerman has been described by the Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art.” Here, she combines broad outlooks on culture and society with practical applications and accessible stories. Her expansive scope encompasses the craft, structure, and inspiration that bring theatrical works to life as well as the applications of art in fields as diverse as faith, aging, particle physics, and human rights law. Offering readers a gentle manifesto describing methods that bring a horizontal focus to bear on a hierarchical world, this is the perfect book for anyone curious about the possible role for art in politics, science, community, motherhood, and the media.

Ebook Edition Note: Two images have been redacted, on page 200, Dances at a Cocktail Party, and on page 201, the bottom photo of Small Dances about Big Ideas.

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Hip Hop on Film

Performance Culture, Urban Space, and Genre Transformation in the 1980s

Kimberly Monteyne

Early hip hop film musicals have either been expunged from cinema history or excoriated in brief passages by critics and other writers. Hip Hop on Film reclaims and reexamines productions such as Breakin' (1984), Beat Street (1984), and Krush Groove (1985) in order to illuminate Hollywood's fascinating efforts to incorporate this nascent urban culture into conventional narrative forms. Such films presented musical conventions against the backdrop of graffiti-splattered trains and abandoned tenements in urban communities of color, setting the stage for radical social and political transformations. Hip hop musicals are also part of the broader history of teen cinema, and films such as Charlie Ahearn's Wild Style (1983) are here examined alongside other contemporary youth-oriented productions. As suburban teen films banished parents and children to the margins of narrative action, hip hop musicals, by contrast, presented inclusive and unconventional filial groupings that included all members of the neighborhood. These alternative social configurations directly referenced specific urban social problems, which affected the stability of inner city families following diminished governmental assistance in communities of color during the 1980s.

Breakdancing, a central element of hip hop musicals, is also reconsidered. It gained widespread acclaim at the same time that these films entered the theaters, but the nation's newly discovered dance form was embattled--caught between a multitude of institutional entities such as the ballet academy, advertising culture, and dance publications that vied to control its meaning, particularly in relation to delineations of gender. As street-trained breakers were enticed to join the world of professional ballet, this newly forged relationship was recast by dance promoters as a way to invigorate and "remasculinize" European dance, while young women simultaneously critiqued conventional masculinities through an appropriation of breakdance. These multiple and volatile histories influenced the first wave of hip hop films, and even structured the sleeper hit Flashdance. This forgotten, ignored, and maligned cinema is not only an important aspect of hip hop history, but is also central to the histories of teen film, the postclassical musical, and even institutional dance. Kimberley Monteyne places these films within the wider context of their cultural antecedents and reconsiders the genre's influence.

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How To Do Things with Dance

Performing Change in Postwar America

Rebekah J. Kowal

In postwar America, any assertion of difference from the mainstream anticommunist culture carried professional and personal risks. For this reason, modern dance artists left much of what they thought unsaid. Instead they expressed themselves in movement. How To Do Things with Dance positions modern dance as a vital critical discourse, and suggests that dances of the late 1940s and the 1950s can be seen as compelling agents of social change. Concentrating on choreographers whose artistic work conceived dance in terms of action, Rebekah J. Kowal shows how specific choreographic projects demonstrated increasing awareness of the stage as a penetrable space, one on which socially suspect or marginalized modes of being could be performed with relative impunity and exerted in the real world. Artists covered include Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Anna Sokolow, Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, and Anna Halprin.

Ebook Edition Note: All images have been redacted.

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