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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Many individuals, including some dance scholars, think that traditional dance genres are reified choreographic forms that are like physical objects, handed down unchanged and unchanging through time like heirlooms. Traditional dance genres do change through their history. In fact, many traditional genres contain a great deal of improvisation, which promotes change within the genre. Some dance genres, such as tango and Iranian solo urban dance, consist almost entirely of improvised movement. This essay describes and analyzes several dance genres and the ways in which improvisation informs them. The essay also details the characteristics of improvisation in general, and then use several genres of dance as examples of how dancers improvise within them.

Keywords: traditional dance, characteristics of improvisation, Iranian solo improvised dance, Balkan improvised dance, Irish step dance, Argentine tango, Indian classical dance

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