Affect, Technique, and Discourse: Being Actively Passive in the Face of History: Reconstruction of Reconstruction
Taking its examples from a European context, this chapter describes three possible ways of reenacting history in dance. First, it analyzes Martin Nachbar’s reconstruction of Dore Hoyer’s cycle of dances, Affectos Humanos, as a way of affecting bodies. Second, William Forsythe’s deconstruction of neo-classical ballet understands dance technique as a residue of dance history and the bodies it produces. Third, the work of the French Albrecht Knust Quartet on the notation of dances highlights choreography as writing and examines the score as the basis for possible reenactments. All three examples center around an impossibility that sets their reenactments adrift: the impossibility of the body of Dore Hoyer, the impossibility of perfectly incorporating dance technique, and the impossibility of translating the notation of Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Afternoon of a Faun into a definitive version of the piece.
Stephanie L. Batiste
This chapter argues that the African American dance practice of krumping editorialized in the 2005 David LaChapelle film RIZE defines a space of home as a system of feeling in early twenty-first-century Los Angeles. It offers the notion of kinetic affect as a means of understanding dancers’ charismatic formation of community within dance practice and its spaces. Krump dancing reveals a rich world of love and pain that characterizes life in black Los Angeles. The dancers’ commando-style ownership of venue, content, embodiment, and performance presentation challenge the confining spaces of ethnographic film, urban disenfranchisement, and stereotype.
“An Interesting Experiment in Eugenics”: Ted Shawn, American Dance, and the Discourses of Sex, Race, and Ethnicity
Paul A. Scolieri
The “ethnic dance” movement in the United States is closely associated with Ted Shawn, the “Father of American Dance” (1891–1972). Shawn and his wife and dancing partner, Ruth St. Denis, founded a dance company called Denishawn, whose repertory incorporated Native American, “Negro,” and Spanish folk dances. By the mid-1920s, Shawn viewed American dance in terms of moral and physical purity—a philosophy he based on the discourse of eugenics. This article explores how the eugenics movement informed Shawn’s vision of American dance in the 1920s, particularly with respect to two of his related writings, The American Ballet and “An American Ballet.” It explains how Shawn’s personal and professional relationship with Havelock Ellis, a British physician who was a leading proponent of the eugenics movement in Europe and whom he considered his idol, influenced his views about eugenics. It also examines how Shawn’s anxiety about his own sexual “unfitness” (his homosexuality) shaped his racist, nativist, and xenophobic “experiment” with eugenics in American dance.
“And I Make My Own”: Class Performance, Black Urban Identity, and Depression-Era Harlem’s Physical Culture
Christopher J. Wells
This chapter applies spatial practice theory to the intersections of power relations, social spaces, and embodied performance in the dance culture of Great Depression-era Harlem. Tracing the movement in black communities away from signifiers of ethnicity toward social-class-based hierarchies, it shows how ethnicized tropes have been used to exoticize and commodify black identity and to create the American black/white racial binary. This strategy has its roots in the marketing labels of the slave trade and the performative tropes of minstrel shows, and it continued in the floor shows of the Cotton Club and other “jungle alley” nightclubs in Harlem. The chapter charts the trajectory of the Savoy Ballroom’s drift from an upscale, dignified dance palace to an incubator for the lindy hop and Harlem’s other popular dance innovations. It argues that considering dance demands a model of ethnicity that creates more space for individual agency and processes of self-definition.
The black-cast backstage musical Stormy Weather (1943) is the first Hollywood film to explicitly celebrate black achievement. Featuring key figures of African American dance and more black dance numbers than any other mainstream musical, it testifies to the versatility and—crucially—the hybridity of jazz dance culture. This article analyzes dance in Stormy Weather by addressing questions of appreciation, appropriation, and assimilation in the context of both film and dance history. Stormy Weather’s panoply of styles and stars negotiates several contradictory processes: white appropriation of “authentic” black talent, black assimilation to “classy” white styles, but also black adaptation and appropriation of hitherto white domains of performance. Through its self-referential narrative of dance history—and through some omissions—it simultaneously chronicles the history of black performers and racial stereotypes in white Hollywood, and thus reveals the industry’s strategies in the exploitation of black talent.
Attending to the Heartbeat in Dance Movement Psychotherapy: Improvements in Mood and Quality of Life for Patients with Coronary Heart Disease
Mariam Mchitarian, Jospeh A. Moutiris, and Vicky Karkou
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Interventions to reduce future events in patients with established CHD include, apart from medical and pharmaceutical means, a change in lifestyle, social, and psychological support, and other interventions such as dance movement psychotherapy (DMP). This chapter describes the potential usefulness of DMP as a therapeutic tool in acute and chronic cardiac patients. Data from two studies among CHD patients, conducted in a tertiary hospital and in a rehabilitation centre, are presented. Both of these studies show short-term benefit in the quality of life and psychological status of patients. Although methodological limitations did not allow for the establishment of long-term benefits of this intervention for CHD patients, this chapter hypothesizes that long-lasting benefits are possible.
Reviewers of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001) often claimed to be bombarded, overloaded, or pathologically infected by the film’s rapid-fire imagery and eclectic cultural references. This chapter explores these visceral experiences of spectatorship, focusing on the film’s dance sequences. It argues that in these sequences, choreography and digital technology (including computer-generated imagery and editing) combine to allow spectators to physically experience on-screen bodies that are historically and culturally complex, distant, and “other.” Alison Landsberg’s notion of “prosthetic memory” (2004) suggests that films can physically connect spectators with pasts and memories they have not directly experienced. This chapter argues that Moulin Rouge! achieves this physical connection by tapping into, and updating, a bohemian tradition of cross-cultural and transhistorical self-performance.
This chapter explores the possibility of a relationship between spiritual practices and some of the many facets of wellbeing. It considers the distinction between religion and spirituality with reference to the literature. It discusses Authentic Movement, an inner-directed movement process rooted in the intersection of dance/movement therapy and Jungian depth psychology, and the concept of embodied spirituality in which the relationship between the mover and the witness is explored. In particular, it explores the relationship of this practice to health and the increased sense of wellbeing that stems from a direct experience of the sacred, which supports a deepening sense of connection to one’s true self.
Practitioners working with the somatic practice of Authentic Movement often employ a holistic notion of wellbeing that includes psyche, soma, and spirit. This approach is widely believed to be crucial to the sense of wellbeing often generated. Authentic Movement, developed in the 1950s by Mary Starks Whitehouse, is an expressive and improvised movement practice based originally on the theories of C. G. Jung, to help individuals find their ‘authentic’ moving self. This is often a deeply liberating and transforming experience. In Authentic Movement, appropriate strategies are developed to engage the body as a moving container, as well as articulation strategies for bringing moving experiences into language. These allow the participant to experience a sense of ‘authenticity’ that is beyond current ego consciousness. This chapter aims to explore Authentic Movement as a philosophy to understand more fully how this practice might help transform trauma and engender wellbeing.
Authenticity and Ethnicity: Folk Dance, Americanization, and the Immigrant Body in the Early Twentieth Century
Jessica Ray Herzogenrath
During the Progressive Era, settlement workers attempted to regulate dance both within and outside settlement house walls as a method to instill proper “American” body behaviors, particularly in immigrant bodies. This essay examines the paradoxes of folk dance as encouraged by settlement workers in early-twentieth-century Chicago and New York. Settlement workers aimed to assimilate immigrants to American ideals of health, refinement, and respectability through the body; in folk dance they found a satisfying mode of nonsexualized dance, which also acted out a romanticized desire for simplicity in the midst of rapid modernization. The evidence reveals that folk dance in settlement houses traveled two paths: ethnic clubs devoted to the practice of immigrant traditions and structured classes offered to girls and young women. These developments fulfilled the project of Americanization prescribed by the settlement movement and provided a means for immigrants to continue folk practices from their home countries.