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quite as important as evidence and explanation as is his detailed text. In the book's generous margins are copious, information-packed notes, further illuminating the text. By any standards, this is a major work of interpretative scholarship. In the realm of theatre research, however, where relations or comparisons with the other arts are so seldom made at all, let alone to such brilliant advantage, this fine book will be a model-and a challenge. Glenn Loney Democracy's Body: Judson Dance Theater, 1962-1964 Sally Banes UMI Research Press, 270 pp.; $39.95 (cloth) Any history of performance is fragmentary; the historian tries to assemble as many fragments as a collection of images, narratives, partial recollections, imperfect reminiscences, and a few scores. In the tradition of the best storytellers-who know how to get out of the way of the story-Sally Banes has written a refreshing and carefully documented history of Judson Dance Theatre, the seedbed of postmodern dance. She chronicles in detail the movement that began in 1962 in Robert Dunn's composition class at the Merce Cunningham studio, and ended in 1964 when the choreographers largely went their separate ways. She cites close to 200 dances and includes descriptions of many of them. Interwoven with the accounts of concerts and individual dances, are brief biographies of the choreographers-including Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Elaine Summers, Lucinda Childs, Trisha Brown, Deborah Hay and Simone Forti -excerpts from journals and interviews, and analysis. Contradictory statements about the same dance gleaned from personal diaries or from what people can remember, and vastly different views of critics who were writing at the time, are juxtaposed. Although this kind of ironic and humorous organization of the material is present, the facts are not subordinated to a thesis or point of view; rather they are presented in such a way that the reader may encounter them more or less directly and make up his or her own mind about them. Democracy's Body is an important contribution to the study of avant-garde dance, as well as a record of a particular historical movement. Judson Dance Theater, the first avant-garde movement in dance theatre since the modern dance of the 1930s and 1940s, occurred within the context of experimentation in several art forms. Banes conveys the adventure in the air as visual artists, dancers and musicians met to discuss existentialism, phenomenology and Zen Buddhism, and to collaborate in diverse performance works. John Cage and Merce Cunningham's use of chance structures opened up new composition possibilities. Ordinary life was regarded 98 as a zone of insight and surprise. The emphasis was on spontaneity, immediacy and doing the impossible. This excellent reference book about the early Judson period contains photographs of dances and a bibliography for further reading. Laurie Lassiter Theory of the Avant-Garde Peter Burger Theory and History of Literature, Volume 4 University of Minnesota Press; 136 pp. (plus 56 pp. foreword); $25.00 (cloth); $10.95 (paper) The Postmodern Condition:A Report on Knowledge Jean-FranSois Lyotard Foreword by Fredric Jameson Theory and History of Literature, Volume 10 University of Minnesota Press; 112 pp. (plus 26 pp. foreword); $19.50 (cloth); $8.95 (paper) These two volumes represent important contributions to the state of "Continental theory" which has caused a radical re-evaluation of philosophy and aesthetics in recent years. One of the problems with this theoretical enterprise has been the fact that these theories remain ethnocentric, with an emphasis on European art and culture as the prima face apex of cultural development. The "postmodern" condition represents an acknowledgement of contingency as a primary factor in discourse, that is, the idea of relativity becomes a pervasive ideological reality. The idea of the work of art as an arbiter of "truth" becomes devalued, as the possibility of alternative points of view is propounded. Of course, this is the result of the theoretical implications of "the avant-garde," as Peter Burger's essay makes clear. The implications for the establishment of "knowledge" have created a crisis in the very nature of discourse, with the attendant possibility of duplicity or deception in any utterance now held in abeyance, resulting in the trauma...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 98-99
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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