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Dance and American Art

A Long Embrace

Sharyn R. Udall

From ballet to burlesque, from the frontier jig to the jitterbug, Americans have always loved watching dance, whether in grand ballrooms, on Mississippi riverboats, or in the streets. Dance and American Art is an innovative look at the elusive, evocative nature of dance and the American visual artists who captured it through their paintings, sculpture, photography, and prints from the early nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. The scores of artists discussed include many icons of American art: Winslow Homer, George Caleb Bingham, Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Edward Steichen, David Smith, and others.
    As a subject for visual artists, dance has given new meaning to America’s perennial myths, cherished identities, and most powerful dreams. Their portrayals of dance and dancers, from the anonymous to the famous—Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, Josephine Baker, Martha Graham—have testified to the enduring importance of spatial organization, physical pattern, and rhythmic motion in creating aesthetic form.
    Through extensive research, sparkling prose, and beautiful color reproductions, art historian Sharyn R. Udall draws attention to the ways that artists’ portrayals of dance have defined the visual character of the modern world and have embodied culturally specific ideas about order and meaning, about the human body, and about the diverse fusions that comprise American culture.

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Dance and Gender

An Evidence-Based Approach

Edited by Wendy Oliver and Doug Risner

Driven by facts and hard data, this volume reveals how gender dynamics affect the lives of dancers, choreographers, directors, students, educators, and others who are involved in the world of dance. It unpacks real issues that matter--not just to dance communities but also to broader societal trends in the West.

In these studies, dancers and dance scholars take readers into classrooms, rehearsals, performances, festivals, competitions, college dance departments, and company administrations. They ask incisive questions and analyze data to learn about the role of gender in attitudes, stereotypes, pedagogy, funding inequities, representation, casting, and body image. Dance is an important part of our larger cultural fabric, and this volume adds powerful findings to today’s discussions about living in a gendered society.

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Dance and the Body Politic in Northern Greece

Jane K. Cowan

Valued for their sensual and social intensity, Greek dance-events are often also problematical for participants, giving rise to struggles over position, prestige, and reputation. Here Jane Cowan explores how the politics of gender is articulated through the body at these culturally central, yet until now ethnographically neglected, celebrations in a class-divided northern Greek town. Portraying the dance-event as both a highly structured and dynamic social arena, she approaches the human body not only as a sign to be deciphered but as a site of experience and an agent of practice.

In describing the multiple ideologies of person, gender, and community that townspeople embody and explore as they dance, Cowan presents three different settings: the traditional wedding procession, the "Europeanized" formal evening dance of local civic associations, and the private party. She examines the practices of eating, drinking, talking, gifting, and dancing, and the verbal discourse through which celebrants make sense of each other's actions. Paying particular attention to points of tension and moments of misunderstanding, she analyzes in what ways these social situations pose different problems for men and women.

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Dance and the Hollywood Latina

Race, Sex, and Stardom

Priscilla Peña Ovalle

Dance and the Hollywood Latina asks why every Latina star in Hollywood history began as a dancer or danced onscreen. Introducing the concepts of "inbetween-ness" and "racial mobility" to further illuminate how racialized sexuality and the dancing female body operate in film, this book focuses on the careers of Dolores Del Rio, Rita Hayworth, Carmen Miranda, Rita Moreno, and Jennifer Lopez and helps readers better understand how the United States grapples with race, gender, and sexuality through dancing bodies on screen.

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Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach, Expanded Edition

Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne

Stylized dance music and music based on dance rhythms pervade Bach's compositions. Although the music of this very special genre has long been a part of every serious musician's repertoire, little has been written about it.

The original edition of this addressed works that bore the names of dances—a considerable corpus. In this expanded version of their practical and insightful study, Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne apply the same principals to the study of a great number of Bach's works that use identifiable dance rhythms but do not bear dance-specific titles.

Part I describes French dance practices in the cities and courts most familiar to Bach. The terminology and analytical tools necessary for discussing dance music of Bach's time are laid out.

Part II presents the dance forms that Bach used, annotating all of his named dances. Little and Jenne draw on choreographies, harmony, theorists' writings, and the music of many seventeenth- and eighteenth-century
composers in order to arrive at a model for each dance type.

In Appendix A all of Bach's named dances are listed in convenient tabular form; included are the BWV number for each piece, the date of composition, the larger work in which it appears, the instrumentation, and the meter.
Appendix B supplies the same data for pieces recognizable as dance types but not named as such.

More than ever, this book will stimulate both the musical scholar and the performer with a new perspective at the rhythmic workings of Bach's remarkable repertoire of dance-based music.

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Dance Boots

Linda LeGarde Grover

In this stirring collection of linked stories, Linda LeGarde Grover portrays an Ojibwe community struggling to follow traditional ways of life in the face of a relentlessly changing world.
 
In the title story an aunt recounts the harsh legacy of Indian boarding schools that tried to break the indigenous culture. In doing so she passes on to her niece the Ojibwe tradition of honoring elders through their stories. In “Refugees Living and Dying in the West End of Duluth,” this same niece comes of age in the 1970s against the backdrop of her forcibly dispersed family. A cycle of boarding schools, alcoholism, and violence haunts these stories even as the characters find beauty and solace in their large extended families.
 
With its attention to the Ojibwe language, customs, and history, this unique collection of riveting stories illuminates the very nature of storytelling. The Dance Boots narrates a century’s evolution of Native Americans making choices and compromises, often dictated by a white majority, as they try to balance survival, tribal traditions, and obligations to future generations.

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Dance for Export

Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War

Naima Prevots

At the height of the Cold War in 1954, President Eisenhower inaugurated a program of cultural exchange that sent American dancers and other artists to political "hot spots" overseas. This peacetime gambit by a warrior hero was a resounding success.

Among the artists chosen for international duty were Jose Limon, who led his company on the first government-sponsored tour of South America; Martha Graham, whose famed ensemble crisscrossed southeast Asia; Alvin Ailey, whose company brought audiences to their feet throughout the South Pacific; and George Balanchine, whose New York City Ballet crowned its triumphant visits to Western Europe and Japan with an epoch-making tour of the Soviet Union in 1962. The success of Eisenhower's program of cultural export led directly to the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts and Washington's Kennedy Center.

Naima Prevots draws on an array of previously unexamined sources, including formerly classified State Department documents, congressional committee hearings, and the minutes of the Dance Panel, to reveal the inner workings of "Eisenhower's Program," the complex set of political, fiscal, and artistic interests that shaped it, and the ever-uneasy relationship between government and the arts in the US.

CONTRIBUTORS: Eric Foner.

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Dance Hall Days

Intimacy and Leisure Among Working-Class Immigrants in the United States

Randy McBee

The rise of commercialized leisure coincided with the arrival of millions of immigrants to America's cities. Conflict was inevitable as older generations attempted to preserve their traditions, values, and ethnic identities, while the young sought out the cheap amusements and sexual freedom which the urban landscape offered. At immigrant picnics, social clubs, and urban dance halls, Randy McBee discovers distinct and highly contested gender lines, proving that the battle between the ages was also one between the sexes.

Free from their parents and their strict rules governing sexual conduct, working women took advantage of their time in dance halls to challenge conventional gender norms. They routinely passed certain men over for dances, refused escorts home, and embraced the sensual and physical side of dance to further accentuate their superior skills and ability on the dance floor. Most men felt threatened by women's displays of empowerment and took steps to thwart the changes taking place. Accustomed to street corners, poolrooms, saloons, and other all-male get-togethers, working men tried to transform the dance hall into something that resembled these familiar hangouts.

McBee also finds that men frequently abandoned the commercial dance hall for their own clubs, set up in the basements of tenement flats. In these hangouts, working men established rules governing intimacy and leisure that allowed them to regulate the behavior of the women who attended club events. The collective manner in which they behaved not only affected the organization of commercial leisure but also men and women's struggles with and against one another to define the meaning of leisure, sexuality, intimacy, and even masculinity.

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Dance Lessons

A Novel

Aine Greaney

A year after her husband’s death in a sailing accident off Martha’s Vineyard, Ellen Boisvert bumps into an old friend. In this chance encounter, she discovers that her immigrant husband of almost fifteen years was not an orphan after all. Instead, his aged mother Jo is alive and residing on the family’s isolated farm in the west of Ireland. Faced with news of her mother-in-law incarnate, the thirty-nine-year-old American prep school teacher decides to travel to Ireland to investigate the truth about her husband Fintan and why he kept his family’s existence a secret for so many years. Between Jo’s hilltop farm and the lakeside village of Gowna, Ellen begins to uncover the mysteries of her Irish husband’s past and the cruelties and isolation of his rural childhood. Ellen also stumbles upon Fintan’s long-ago romance with a local village woman, with whom he had a daughter, Cat. Cat is now fourteen and living with her mother in London. As Ellen reconciles her troubled relationship with Fintan, she discovers a way to heal the wounds of the past.

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Dance Lest We All Fall Down

Breaking Cycles of Poverty in Brazil and Beyond

Margaret Willson, a widely respected anthropologist, co-founded Bahia Street in 1996 with Rita Conceicao. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the London School of Economics.

In a narrative brimming with honesty and grace, Dance Lest We All Fall Down unfolds the story of how friendship, when combined with courage, insight, and passion, can transform dreams of a better world into reality.

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