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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Dance

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Site Dance Cover

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Site Dance

Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces

Edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik

In recent years, site-specific dance has grown in popularity. In the wake of groundbreaking work by choreographers who left traditional performance spaces for other venues, more and more performances are cropping up on skyscrapers, in alleyways, on trains, on the decks of aircraft carriers, and in a myriad of other unexpected locations worldwide.

In Site Dance, the first anthology to examine site-specific dance, editors Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik explore the work that choreographers create for nontraditional performance spaces and the thinking behind their creative choices. Combining interviews with and essays by some of the most prominent and influential practitioners of site dance, they look at the challenges and rewards of embracing alternative spaces.

The close examinations of the work of artists like Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood, Stephan Koplowitz, Heidi Duckler, Ann Carlson, and Eiko Otake provide important insights into why choreographers leave the theatre to embrace the challenges of unconventional venues.

Site Dance also includes more than 80 photographs of site-specific performances, revealing how the arts, and movement in particular, can become part of and speak to our everyday lives. Celebrating the often unexpected beauty and juxtapositions created by site dance, the book is essential reading for anyone curious about the way that these choreographers are changing our experience of the world one step at a time.

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Swans of the Kremlin

Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia

Christina Ezrahi

Classical ballet was perhaps the most visible symbol of aristocratic culture and its isolation from the rest of Russian society under the tsars. In the wake of the October Revolution, ballet, like all of the arts, fell under the auspices of the Soviet authorities. In light of these events, many feared that the imperial ballet troupes would be disbanded. Instead, the Soviets attempted to mold the former imperial ballet to suit their revolutionary cultural agenda and employ it to reeducate the masses. As Christina Ezrahi’s groundbreaking study reveals, they were far from successful in this ambitious effort to gain complete control over art. Swans of the Kremlin offers a fascinating glimpse at the collision of art and politics during the volatile first fifty years of the Soviet period. Ezrahi shows how the producers and performers of Russia’s two major troupes, the Mariinsky (later Kirov) and the Bolshoi, quietly but effectively resisted Soviet cultural hegemony during this period. Despite all controls put on them, they managed to maintain the classical forms and traditions of their rich artistic past and to further develop their art form. These aesthetic and professional standards proved to be the power behind the ballet’s worldwide appeal. The troupes soon became the showpiece of Soviet cultural achievement, as they captivated Western audiences during the Cold War period. Based on her extensive research into official archives, and personal interviews with many of the artists and staff, Ezrahi presents the first-ever account of the inner workings of these famed ballet troupes during the Soviet era. She follows their struggles in the postrevolutionary period, their peak during the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s, and concludes with their monumental productions staged to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the revolution in 1968.

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Sweating Saris

Indian Dance as Transnational Labor

Priya Srinivasan

A groundbreaking book that seeks to understand dance as labor, Sweating Saris examines dancers not just as aesthetic bodies but as transnational migrant workers and wage earners who negotiate citizenship and gender issues. 
           
Srinivasan merges ethnography, history, critical race theory, performance and post-colonial studies among other disciplines to investigate the embodied experience of Indian dance. The dancers’ sweat stained and soaked saris, the aching limbs are emblematic of global circulations of labor, bodies, capital, and industrial goods.  Thus the sweating sari of the dancer stands in for her unrecognized labor.
         
Srinivasan shifts away from the usual emphasis on Indian women dancers as culture bearers of the Indian nation. She asks us to reframe the movements of late nineteenth century transnational Nautch Indian dancers to the foremother of modern dance Ruth St. Denis in the early twentieth century to contemporary teenage dancers in Southern California, proposing a transformative theory of dance, gendered-labor, and citizenship that is far-reaching.


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Tango Nuevo

Carolyn Merritt

The Argentine tango is one of the world’s best-known partner dances. Though tango is much admired and discussed, very little has been written on its ongoing evolution. In this innovative work, Carolyn Merritt surveys tango history while focusing on the most recent iteration of the dance, tango Nuevo, and the práctica scene that has exploded in Buenos Aires since the early 2000s.

After starting with an overview of tango, Merritt leads readers on a great adventure through the traditional dance halls and the less formal prácticas of Buenos Aires to tango communities on both coasts of the United States. Along the way, Merritt’s personal observations show the dance’s emotional depth and the challenges dancers face in tango venues old and new. Her investigation also demonstrates how innovation, globalization, and fusion, which many associate with nuevo, have always been at work in tango.

Combining sensuous prose, provocative images, and often heartbreaking stories, this book takes an unflinching look at the complex motivations driving the pursuit to master this intricate dance. Throughout, Merritt questions the "newness" of Nuevo through portraits of machismo, violence, and elitism in contemporary tango. The result is a volume that highlights the tensions between preservation and evolution of this--or any--cultural art form.

Members of the global tango community as well as students of dance, folklore, anthropology, and the social sciences will embrace this book. For those who are devoted to Argentine tango as dance, this book will be indispensable to understanding its most recent transformations.

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Tango sans frontières

Edited by France Joyal

Vous regardez les danseurs évoluer sur la piste, fascinés par les motifs que tracent agilement leurs pieds sur le sol. Puis, votre regard remonte lentement leurs corps enlacés et pénètre, pour quelques moments, leur intimité. Au-delà des costumes flamboyants et des pas de danse, vous comprenez que le tango cache en lui les délicats mécanismes des rapports humains. C’est également ce qu’a compris France Joyal en initiant, il y a trois ans, un cycle de colloques et de publications universitaires sur le tango. Poursuivant le travail accompli dans Tango, corps à corps culturel (2009), elle met ici à contribution les expertises scientifiques et professionnelles de chercheurs d’origines diverses – française, argentine, roumaine et québécoise – et de domaines variés – psychologie, géomatique cognitive, musique, psychiatrie, histoire, littérature, sociologie, danse et éducation artistique. Ensemble, ils offrent un panorama du tango, de ses fondements, de son caractère improvisé, de ses incidences sur le mieux-être de l'individu et de son extraordinaire potentiel métaphorique. Les chercheurs de tous les domaines, les intervenants en santé, de même que les professeurs, danseurs et amateurs de tango, se sentiront interpellés par cet ouvrage qui marque les prémisses de la «tangologie», d’une science du tango. Assurément, le tango n’a pas de frontières.

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Teaching Dancing with Ideokinetic Principles

Drid Williams

In examining ideokinesis and its application to the teaching and practice of dancing, Drid Williams introduces readers to the work of Dr. Lulu Sweigard (1895-1974), a pioneer of ideokinetic principles. Drawing on her experiences during private instructional sessions with Sweigard over a two-year span, Williams discusses methods using imagery for improving body posture and alignment for ease of movement. Central to Williams's own teaching methods is the application of Sweigard's principles and general anatomical instruction, including how she used visual imagery to help prevent bodily injuries and increasing body awareness relative to movement. Williams also emphasizes the differences between kinesthetic (internal) and mirror (external) imagery and shares reactions from professional dancers who were taught using ideokinesis. Williams's account of teaching and practicing ideokinesis is supplemented with essays by Sweigard, William James, and Jean-Georges Noverre on dancing, posture, and habits.

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Terpsichore in Sneakers

Post-Modern Dance

Sally Banes

Drawing on the postmodern perspective and concerns that informed her groundbreaking Terpischore in Sneakers, Sally Bane's Writing Dancing documents the background and development of avant-garde and popular dance, analyzing individual artists, performances, and entire dance movements. With a sure grasp of shifting cultural dynamics, Banes shows how postmodern dance is integrally connected to other oppositional, often marginalized strands of dance culture, and considers how certain kinds of dance move from the margins to the mainstream.

Banes begins by considering the act of dance criticism itself, exploring its modes, methods, and underlying assumptions and examining the work of other critics. She traces the development of contemporary dance from the early work of such influential figures as Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine to such contemporary choreographers as Molissa Fenley, Karole Armitage, and Michael Clark. She analyzes the contributions of the Judson Dance Theatre and the Workers' Dance League, the emergence of Latin postmodern dance in New York, and the impact of black jazz in Russia. In addition, Banes explores such untraditional performance modes as breakdancing and the "drunk dancing" of Fred Astaire.

Ebook Edition Note: All images have been redacted.

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Through the Eyes of a Dancer

Selected Writings

Wendy Perron

Through the Eyes of a Dancer compiles the writings of noted dance critic and editor Wendy Perron. In pieces for The SoHo Weekly News, Village Voice, The New York Times, and Dance Magazine, Perron limns the larger aesthetic and theoretical shifts in the dance world since the 1960s. She surveys a wide range of styles and genres, from downtown experimental performance to ballets at the Metropolitan Opera House. In opinion pieces, interviews, reviews, brief memoirs, blog posts, and contemplations on the choreographic process, she gives readers an up-close, personalized look at dancing as an art form. Dancers, choreographers, teachers, college dance students--and anyone interested in the intersection between dance and journalism--will find Perron's probing and insightful writings inspiring. Through the Eyes of a Dancer is a nuanced microcosm of dance's recent globalization and modernization that also provides an opportunity for new dancers to look back on the traditions and styles that preceded their own.

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Urban Bush Women

Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out

Nadine George-Graves

Provocative, moving, powerful, explicit, strong, unapologetic. These are a few words that have been used to describe the groundbreaking Brooklyn-based dance troupe Urban Bush Women. Their unique aesthetic borrows from classical and contemporary dance techniques and theater characterization exercises, incorporates breath and vocalization, and employs space and movement to instill their performances with emotion and purpose. Urban Bush Women concerts are also deeply rooted in community activism, using socially conscious performances in places around the country—from the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, and the Joyce, to community centers and school auditoriums—to inspire audience members to engage in neighborhood change and challenge stereotypes of gender, race, and class.
    Nadine George-Graves presents a comprehensive history of Urban Bush Women since their founding in 1984. She analyzes their complex work, drawing on interviews with current and former dancers and her own observation of and participation in Urban Bush Women rehearsals. This illustrated book captures the grace and power of the dancers in motion and provides an absorbing look at an innovative company that continues to raise the bar for socially conscious dance.

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Vaganova Today

The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition

Catherine E. Pawlick

Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951) is revered as the visionary who first codified the Russian system of classical ballet training. The Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, founded on impeccable technique and centuries of tradition, has a reputation for elite standards, and its graduates include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, and Diana Vishneva. Yet the "Vaganova method" has come under criticism in recent years.

In this absorbing volume, Catherine Pawlick traces Vaganova's story from her early years as a ballet student in tsarist Russia to her career as a dancer with the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet to her work as a pedagogue and choreographer. Pawlick then goes beyond biography to address Vaganova's legacy today, offering the first-ever English translations of primary source materials and intriguing interviews with pedagogues and dancers from the Academy and the Mariinsky Ballet, including some who studied with Vaganova herself.

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