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Reviewed by:
  • Dancing from the Past to the Present: Nation, Culture, Identities
  • Kathy Foley
Dancing from the Past to the Present: Nation, Culture, Identities. Edited by Theresa Jill Buckland. Studies in Dance History series. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007. 320 pp. 32 black and white photos, 6 maps, 2 illustrations. Cloth $55.00, paper $24.95.

This compilation of nine essays includes four on Asian or Pacific topics. The opening essay by the editor effectively notes the history of contemporary dance studies within the larger nexus of new history, cultural studies, and performance studies. The most provocative essays are the ones written by dance [End Page 397] scholars who have spent a lifetime studying the genres they discuss. Adrienne Kaeppler's "Dances and Dancing in Tonga: Anthropological and Historical Discourses" emphasizes a diachronic analysis of the Tongan laka laka, showing how choreographies influence later work as she compares accounts from Captain Cook's voyage in 1777 with pictorial and late nineteenth-century accounts, with work she saw as a young anthropologist in 1964, and with dances for the eightieth birthday celebration of King Tauf'ahau Tupou IV in 1998. This essay shows a comprehensive command of the history and genre. Judy Van Zile's "Interpreting the Historical Record: Using Images of Korean Dance for Understanding the Past" questions the presumed usefulness of historical paintings for drawing conclusions about dance practices of the past. Her points are well argued in relationship to the two specific Korean dances that she details: "Ch'ōnyongmu," an important mask dance with exorcistic implications that has been documented in court records since the late thirteenth century, and "Chinju kommu," a sword dance from the city of Chinju. Janet O'Shea's "Dancing through History and Ethnography: Indian Classical Dance" details her movement from an embedded student of Balasaraswati style bharatanatyam to an ethnographer with a historically nuanced understanding of the wider tradition. Felicia Hughes-Freeland's "Constructing a Classical Tradition: Javanese Court Dance in Indonesia" demystifies the court bedhaya tradition of Java. These two essays are by scholars whose work is now reaching full maturity. This set of essays would be of use as a text in a world dance or anthropology of performance class. Additional essays deal with Romani performance, Yugoslav dance, English Morris dance, and dance in New Mexico's pueblos. All the essays are useful models of researchers who are moving between ethnography, historical research, and movement analysis.

Kathy Foley
University of California–Santa Cruz
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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2109
Print ISSN
0742-5457
Pages
pp. 397-398
Launched on MUSE
2008-11-07
Open Access
No
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