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Improvised Dance as a Practice of Freedom
Danielle Goldman's contribution to the theory and history of improvisation in dance is rich, beautiful and extraordinary. In her careful, rigorously imaginative analysis of the discipline of choreography in real time, Goldman both compels and allows us to become initiates in the mysteries of flight and preparation. She studies the massive volitional resources that one unleashes in giving oneself over to being unleashed. It is customary to say of such a text that it is 'long-awaited' or 'much anticipated'; because of Goldman's work we now know something about the potenza, the kinetic explosion, those terms carry. Reader, get ready to move and be moved. ---Fred Moten, Duke University "In this careful, intelligent, and theoretically rigorous book, Danielle Goldman attends to the 'tight spaces' within which improvised dance explores both its limitations and its capacity to press back against them. While doing this, Goldman also allows herself---and us---to be moved by dance itself. The poignant conclusion, evoking specific moments of embodied elegance, vulnerability, and courage, asks the reader: 'Does it make you feel like dancing?' Whether taken literally or figuratively, I can't imagine any other response to this beautiful book." ---Barbara Browning, New York University "This book will become the single most important reflection on the question of improvisation, a question which has become foundational to dance itself. The achievement of I Want to Be Ready lies not simply in its mastery of the relevant literature within dance, but in its capacity to engage dance in a deep and abiding dialogue with other expressive forms, to think improvisation through myriad sites and a rich vein of cultural diversity, and to join improvisation in dance with its manifestations in life so as to consider what constitutes dance's own politics." ---Randy Martin, Tisch School of Arts at New York University I Want To Be Ready draws on original archival research, careful readings of individual performances, and a thorough knowledge of dance scholarship to offer an understanding of the "freedom" of improvisational dance. While scholars often celebrate the freedom of improvised performances, they are generally focusing on freedom from formal constraints. Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault and Houston Baker, among others, Danielle Goldman argues that this negative idea of freedom elides improvisation's greatest power. Far from representing an escape from the necessities of genre, gender, class, and race, the most skillful improvisations negotiate an ever shifting landscape of constraints. This work will appeal to those interested in dance history and criticism and also interdisciplinary audiences in the fields of American and cultural studies. Danielle Goldman is Assistant Professor of Dance at The New School and a professional dancer in New York City, where she recently has danced for DD Dorvillier and Beth Gill. Cover art: Still from Ghostcatching, 1999, by Bill T. Jones, Paul Kaiser, and Shelley Eshkar. Image courtesy of Kaiser/Eshkar.
Native American Powwow Dancing in the Northeast and Beyond
Colloquially the term “powwow” refers to a meeting where important matters will be discussed. However, at the thousands of Native American intertribal dances that occur every year throughout the United States and Canada, a powwow means something else altogether. Sometimes lasting up to a week, these social gatherings are a sacred tradition central to Native American spirituality. Attendees dance, drum, sing, eat, re-establish family ties, and make new friends.
In this compelling interdisciplinary work, Ann Axtmann examines powwows as practiced primarily along the Atlantic coastline, from New Jersey to New England. She offers an introduction to the many complexities of the tradition and explores the history of powwow performance, the variety of their setups, the dances themselves, and the phenomenon of “playing Indian.” Ultimately, Axtmann seeks to understand how the dancers express and embody power through their moving bodies and what the dances signify for the communities in which they are performed.
Cultural Politics and Identities 1900-2000
This book engages with the role of dance in Irish culture and society over the course of the twentieth century. It adopts a perspective that sees dance as a prism through which to view key aspects of Irish society over the period under review. In terms of its academic provenance, it can be located broadly in the fields of Irish Cultural History/Sociology and Irish Cultural Studies. It selects a number of key moments or eras to explore the role of dance in constructing and reflecting a number of specific cultural identities, namely national identity, gender, ethnic, postmodern and global. Each chapter focuses on one specific kind of cultural identity though themes of gender and social class run through many of the chapters.
A History of the Roots and Branches
The history of jazz dance is best understood by comparing it to a tree. The art form's roots are African. Its trunk is vernacular, shaped by European influence, and exemplified by the Charleston and the Lindy Hop. The branches are many and varied and include tap, Broadway, funk, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, pop, club jazz, popping, B-boying, party dances, and much more.
Unique in its focus on history rather than technique, Jazz Dance offers the only overview of trends and developments since 1960. Editors Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver have assembled an array of seasoned practitioners and scholars who trace the many histories of jazz dance and examine various aspects of the field, including trends, influences, training, race, gender, aesthetics, the international appeal of jazz dance, and its relationship to tap, rock, indie, black concert dance, and Latin dance.
Featuring discussions of such dancers and choreographers as Bob Fosse and Katherine Dunham, as well as analyses of how the form's vocabulary differs from ballet, this complex and compelling history captures the very essence of jazz dance.
The Dancer and the Dance
José Limón (1908–1972) was one of the leading figures of modern dance in the twentieth century. Hailed by the New York Times as “the finest male dancer of his time” when the José Limón Dance Company debuted in 1947, Limón was also a renowned choreographer who won two Dance Magazine Awards and a Capezio Dance Award, two of dance’s highest honors. In addition to directing his own dance company, Limón served as artistic director of the Lincoln Center’s American Dance Theater and also taught choreography at the Juilliard School for many years. In this volume, scholars and artists from fields as diverse as dance history, art history, Mesoamerican ethnohistory, Mexican American studies, music studies, and Mexican history come together to explore one of José Limón’s masterworks, the ballet La Malinche. Offering many points of entry into the dance, they examine La Malinche from various angles, such as Limón’s life story and the influence of his Mexican heritage on his work, an analysis of the dance itself, the musical score composed by Norman Lloyd, the visual elements of props and costumes, the history and myth of La Malinche (the indigenous woman who served the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés as interpreter and mistress), La Malinche’s continuing presence in Mexican American culture, and issues involved in a modern restaging of the dance. Also included in the book is a DVD written and directed by Patricia Harrington Delaney that presents the ballet in its entirety, accompanied by expert commentary that sets La Malinche within its artistic and historical context.
Modern Art and the Economy of Energy
Robin Veder’s The Living Line is a radical reconceptualization of the development of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American modernism. The author illuminates connections among the histories of modern art, body cultures, and physiological aesthetics in early-twentieth-century American culture, fundamentally altering our perceptions about art and the physical, and the degree of cross-pollination in the arts.
The Living Line shows that American producers and consumers of modernist visual art repeatedly characterized their aesthetic experience in terms of kinesthesia, the sense of bodily movement. They explored abstraction with kinesthetic sensibilities and used abstraction to achieve kinesthetic goals. In fact, the formalist approach to art was galvanized by theories of bodily response derived from experimental physiological psychology and facilitated by contemporary body cultures such as modern dance, rhythmic gymnastics, physical education, and physical therapy. Situating these complementary ideas and exercises in relation to enduring fears of neurasthenia, Veder contends that aesthetic modernism shared industrial modernity’s objective of efficiently managing neuromuscular energy.
In a series of finely grained and interconnected case studies, Veder demonstrates that diverse modernists associated with the Armory Show, the Société Anonyme, the Stieglitz circle (especially O’Keeffe), and the Barnes Foundation participated in these discourses and practices and that “kin-aesthetic modernism” greatly influenced the formation of modern art in America and beyond.
This daring and completely original work will appeal to a broad audience of art historians, historians of the body, and American culture in general.
Continuity and Creativity in Island Cultures
Caribbean dance is a broad category that can include everything from nightclubs to sacred ritual. Making Caribbean Dance connects the dance of the islands with their rich multicultural histories and complex identities. Delving deep into the many forms of ritual, social, carnival, staged, experimental, and performance dance, the book explores some of the most mysterious and beloved, as well as rare and little-known, dance traditions of the region.
From the evolution of Indian dance in Trinidad to the barely known rituals of los misterios in the Dominican Republic, this volume looks closely at the vibrant and varied movement vocabulary of the islands. With distinctive and highly illuminating chapters on such topics as experimental dance makers in Puerto Rico, the government's use of dance in shaping national identity in Barbados, the role of calypso and soca in linking Anglophone islands, and the invented dances of dance-hall kings and queens of Jamaica, this volume is an evocative and enlightening exploration of some of the world’s most dynamic dance cultures.
Martha Hill (1900-1995) was one of the most influential figures of twentieth century American dance. Her vision and leadership helped to establish dance as a serious area of study at the university level and solidify its position as a legitimate art form. Setting Hill's story in the context of American postwar culture and women's changing status, this riveting biography shows us how Hill led her colleagues in the development of American contemporary dance from the Kellogg School of Physical Education to Bennington College and the American Dance Festival to the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center. She created pivotal opportunities for Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Hanya Holm, Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, and many others. The book provides an intimate look at the struggles and achievements of a woman dedicated to taking dance out of the college gymnasium and into the theatre, drawing on primary sources that were previously unavailable. It is lavishly illustrated with period photographs.
Ritual and Cultural Dispossession in Bulgaria
Gerald W. Creed analyzes contemporary mumming rituals in rural Bulgaria for what they reveal about life after socialism -- and the current state of postsocialist studies. Mumming rituals have flourished in the post-Soviet era. Elaborately costumed dancers go from house to house demanding sustenance and bestowing blessings. Through the analysis of these rites, Creed critiques key themes in postsocialist studies, including understandings of civil society and democracy, gender and sexuality, autonomy and community, and ethnicity and nationalism. He argues that these events reveal indigenous cultural resources that could have been used both practically and intellectually to ease the postsocialist reconstruction of Bulgarian society, but were not.
Derived from the Latin verb “gerere”-to carry, act, or do-“gesture” has accrued critical currency but has remained undertheorized. Migrations of Gesture addresses this absence and provides a complex theory on the value of gesture for understanding human sign production.
Gestures migrate from body to body, from one medium to another, and between cultural contexts. Juxtaposing distinct approaches to gesture in order to explore the ways in which they at once shape and are influenced by culture, the contributors examine the works of writers Henri Michaux and Stéphane Mallarmé, photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, and filmmakers Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Martin Arnold, along with cultural practices such as gang walking, ballet, and classical Indian dance. The authors move deftly between an organic, phenomenal appreciation of human expression and a historicist, semiotic understanding of how the “human” is itself created through gestural routines.
Contributors: Mark Franko, U of California, Santa Cruz; Ketu H. Katrak, U of California, Irvine; Akira Mizuta Lippit, U of Southern California; Susan A. Phillips, Pitzer College; Deidre Sklar; Lesley Stern, U of California, San Diego; Blake Stimson, U of California, Davis.
Carrie Noland is associate professor of French literature and critical theory at the University of California, Irvine.
Sally Ann Ness is professor of anthropology at University of California, Riverside.