In postwar America, any assertion of difference from the mainstream anticommunist culture carried professional and personal risks. For this reason, modern dance artists left much of what they thought unsaid. Instead they expressed themselves in movement. How To Do Things with Dance positions modern dance as a vital critical discourse, and suggests that dances of the late 1940s and the 1950s can be seen as compelling agents of social change. Concentrating on choreographers whose artistic work conceived dance in terms of action, Rebekah J. Kowal shows how specific choreographic projects demonstrated increasing awareness of the stage as a penetrable space, one on which socially suspect or marginalized modes of being could be performed with relative impunity and exerted in the real world. Artists covered include Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Anna Sokolow, Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, and Anna Halprin.
Publisher: University Press of New England
Number of pages: 348
Weight: 522 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
"It is exemplary in its scholarship, historical method, and originality. Above all, it speaks of a historical period and, in the way that it considers the period, exemplifies dance history research at its best. ... Kowal's daring scholarship illuminates a period now a half century distant, and, in doing so, she says much about the continuing possibilities that dance offers."--Michael Huxley, Dance Research Journal
"Integrating dance into U.S. social and political life, Kowal's book demonstrates persuasively that mid-century dance initiatives contributed crucial innovations to modern dance while also vitally engaging with the tensions within the American body politic that would lead to the fights for racial and gender equality in the 1960s. Her research combines meticulous scholarship with a broad and insightful command of U.S. history."--Susan Leigh Foster, professor, UCLA