How To Do Things with Dance: Performing Change in Postwar America

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9780819568984: How To Do Things with Dance: Performing Change in Postwar America

Winner of the CORD Outstanding Publication Award (2012)

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, José Limón, Anna Sokolow, Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, and Anna Halprin.

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About the Author:

REBEKAH J. KOWAL is an associate professor of dance at the University of Iowa. She has published articles in TDR (The Journal of Performance Studies) and The Returns of Alwin Nikolais: Bodies, Boundaries and the Dance Canon, edited by Randy Martin and Claudia Gitelman (Wesleyan, 2007). Kowal won the 2008 Gertrude Lippincott Award from Society of Dance History Scholars for her article on Pearl Primus, a version of which appears in How to Do Things with Dance.

Review:

“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)

“Kowal convincingly argues that the most salient point of postwar American dance was not the insularity of objectivism but the engagement of action. By questioning the normative movement practices inscribed on our bodies, choreographers like Sokolow, Cunningham, and Halprin bridged method acting and the sit-ins.” (Daniel Belgrad, author of Culture of Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America)

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Book Description University Press of New England, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780819568984

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Book Description University Press of New England, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780819568984

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