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Isadora Duncan in the 21st Century: Capturing the Art and Spirit of the Dancer’s Legacy. By Andrea Mantell Seidel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016; 272 pp.; illustrations. $40.00 paper.
Andrea Mantell Seidel’s work is the culmination of a career’s worth of embodied research on Isadora Duncan. Equal parts memoir, pedagogical manual, and historiographical study, the book explores the nature of “re/constructing” the ineffable quality of Duncan’s choreography (23). Seidel cautions readers not to treat the book as a “how-to” manual. Instead, she encouragers dancers, choreographers, and teachers to use the book as a means to tap into the psychological and philosophical dimensions of transmitting Duncan’s technique, in order to ensure the continuation of the ethos and methods of Duncan’s work in the 21st century. Using dances passed on and adapted by Irma and Anna Duncan, Julia Levien, and Hortense Kooluris, the first half of the book leads readers through Duncan’s aesthetic principles and how to teach them. In the subsequent chapters, Seidel examines what is required (spiritually and thematically) in the restaging of Duncan’s choreographic repertoire, from the lyrical Ave Maria (1914) to the ecstatic Bacchanal (c. 1903) and the triumphant Dances from Revolutionary Russia (c. 1923). The book gives an important analysis of Duncan’s place in modern dance. Additionally, its stories enliven Duncan’s theories through the eyes of a practitioner, providing an illuminating resource for dance and performance scholars.
Remapping Performance: Common Ground, Uncommon Partners. By Jan Cohen-Cruz. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; 240 pp; illustrations. $90.00 cloth; $29.00 paper; e-book available.
Jan Cohen-Cruz analyzes unconventional partnerships between artists, educators, and community organizers who share like-minded social concerns, such as civil rights and antipoverty initiatives. She largely focuses on partnerships that take place outside of performance contexts [End Page 195] (be they academic, legislative, or community-based) to explore how both parties can help one another through transdisciplinary collaboration. Her book also challenges readers to consider social advocacy as a type of performance. Engaging with politicians and community leaders, the artist performs the role of intermediary. His or her outreach becomes an extension of the artist’s performance practice. The metaphor of “remapping” takes two forms in the book: first, it describes the growing trend of artists who cross boundaries that delimit their work as “either social or aesthetic” in order to graph it as “social and aesthetic”; second, it indicates Cohen-Cruz’s interest in artists who have a “strong sense of place” when establishing partnerships outside the artistic sector (18). Uniquely, Cohen-Cruz illuminates her study by including companion pieces after each chapter written by experts in complimentary fields, such as social psychology, community planning, and applied theatre, including Nancy Cantor, Maria Rosario Jackson, Julie Thompson Klein, Todd London, Helen Nicholson, and Penny M. Von Eschen. The book demonstrates how essential these collaborations are in grounding the role of arts in the community and provides ways to ensure the future integration of performance practices in social contexts.
Feminist Surveillance Studies. Edited by Rachel E. Dubrofsky and Shoshana Amielle Magnet. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015; 340 pp; illustrations. $94.95...