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date: 20 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Studies of dance and opera in the past twenty years have issued chiefly from scholars working in the discipline of musicology, in some instances also from dance history and dance studies; collaborative investigations occur relatively infrequently. This chapter analyzes two modes of inquiry that have characterized research and debates about dance and opera in Europe of the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. These are a materializing approach, one that tracks the “stuff” of dance in opera, including its aesthetics, performance practices, and repertoires, and a culturalist approach, which queries how dance and movement practices in and in connection with opera take action in and with respect to their historical, political, and social surrounds. A case study of Mark Morris’s late twentieth-century filmic Dido and Aeneas illuminates the debates through a performance optic.

Keywords: dance history, dance studies, materializing approach, culturalist approach, Dido and Aeneas, Mark Morris

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