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Artistry and Nationalism in State Dance Ensembles
The Ghana Dance Ensemble takes Ghana’s national culture and interprets it in performance using authentic dance forms adapted for local or foreign audiences. Often, says Paul Schauert, the aims of the ensemble and the aims of the individual performers work in opposition. Schauert discusses the history of the dance troupe and its role in Ghana’s post-independence nation-building strategy and illustrates how the nation’s culture makes its way onto the stage. He argues that as dancers negotiate the terrain of what is or is not authentic, they also find ways to express their personal aspirations, discovering, within the framework of nationalism or collective identity, that there is considerable room to reform national ideals through individual virtuosity.
Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia
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.
Indian Dance as Transnational Labor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out
The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition
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.