- Copyright Page
- Introduction: Competition Culture: Winning and Losing at Dance
- Taking the Cake: Black Dance, Competition, and Value
- You’ve Got to Sell It!: Performing on the Dance Competition Stage
- Competitive Capers: Gender, Gentility, and Dancing in Early Modern England
- Endangered Strangers: Tracking Competition in US Federal Dance Funding
- Marking Your Territory: The Struggle to Work in Flamenco
- Reappropriating Choreographies of Authenticity in Mexico: Competitions and the Dance of the Old Men
- Above and Beyond the Battle: Virtuosity and Collectivity within Televised Street Dance Crew Competitions
- Shifting Dynamics: <i>Sean Nós</i> Dancing, Vernacular Expression, and the Competitive Arena of the <i>Oireachtas</i>
- Visible Rhythms: Competition in English Tap Practice
- The International Dancehall Queen Competition: A Discursive Space for Competing Images of Femininity
- Congratulations, We Wish You Success: Competition and Community Participation in Romanian Dance Festivals
- Non-Competitive Body States: Corporeal Freedom and Innovation in Contemporary Dance
- Reclaiming Competitive Tango: The Rise of Argentina’s <i>Campeonato Mundial</i>
- Dance-Off, or a Battle for the Future: Dance Reality Shows in India
- Miss Exotic World: Judging the Neo-Burlesque Movement
- Rapper Dance Adjudication: Aesthetics, Discourse, and Decision-Making
- Dismantling the Genre: Reality Dance Competitions and Layers of Affective Intensification
- Why Are Breaking Battles Judged?: The Rise of International Competitions
- Not Another Don Quixote!: Negotiating China’s Position on the International Ballet Stage
- Dancing with the Asian American Stars: Margaret Cho and the Failure to Win
- Loss of Face: Intimidation, Derision, and Failure in the Hip-Hop Battle
- Making Play Work: Competition, Spectacle, and Intersubjectivity in Hybrid Martial Arts
- You Can’t Outdo Black People: <i>Soul Train</i>, Queer Witnessing, and Pleasurable Competition
- Freedom to Compete: Neoliberal Contradictions in Gaga Intensives
- “We’ll Rumble ’em Right”: Aggression and Play in the Dance-Offs of <i>West Side Story</i>
- Dancing like a Man: Competition and Gender in the New Orleans Second Line
- Man and Money Ready: Challenge Dancing in Antebellum America
- Afterword: Who Is Competing?
Abstract and Keywords
In cultural studies, attention to dance enables a reassessment of the politics of cultural forms, based on a recovery of the embodied subject as the center of meaning-making. Revisited in this light, the film West Side Story is revealed as a cultural defense of youth and play. While the adults in the film work persistently to force the Jets and Sharks into one of two binary categories (serious and mature adults, or innocent and victimized children), the youths make common cause in resisting these categories, through forms of competitive play that sprawl from the playground into the streets, beyond children’s games to the taunting and flaunting and brawling that adult discourses labeled “juvenile delinquency.” Examining three dances, the chapter argues that in West Side Story, as long as conflict is structured as a competition, it remains a cooperative and ordered enterprise. But when competition is disrupted, social frustrations erupt into fatal violence.
Ying Zhu is Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of South Florida. She holds a PhD in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California Riverside. She is presently at work on a book project using the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a case study to consider the body, as a complicating factor, in processes of national, collective memorialization.
Daniel Belgrad is Associate Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. He is the author of The Culture of Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America (1998) and is currently writing a book on the influence of ecological thinking in American culture since 1960.
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