Whether you’re headed back to school or not, the September air always brings about the feeling of education. If you’re looking to expand your horizons with dance literature this fall, here are a couple of new books we feel are worth adding to your reading list.
New Historic Perspectives
Choreographing Copyright: Race, Gender, and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance
Anthea Kraut, Oxford University Press
Relevant due to the ever-growing conversation over choreographic copyright in Canada, Anthea Kraut’s latest book examines the complexities and power dynamics of choreographic copyright in the United States from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century in what she calls “a counter-history of choreographic copyright.” Published by the Oxford University Press, this expertly researched book proposes arguments that lend themselves to dance, race, gender and cultural studies alike. Examining cases leading up to and following the 1976 Copyright Act, Kraut focuses not only on notable historic figures like Agnes de Mille, Loïe Fuller, George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Ruth St. Denis but also on marginalized figures of dance history such as South Asian dancer Mohammed Ismail, African American pantomime Johnny Hudgins and white burlesque dancer Faith Dane. In doing so, Kraut highlights the choreographer’s struggle of positioning “themselves as possessive individuals and rights-bearing subjects rather than as commodities and objects of exchange […] in a country haunted by the legacy of slavery […] and in a field in which the female performing body has so often been objectified.” For those following copyright issues in dance in the digital age, the book even concludes with a coda titled Beyoncé v. De Keersmaeker.
Global Perspectives on Screendance
The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies
Douglas Rosenberg, Oxford University Press
In Global Perspectives on Screendance, editor Douglas Rosenberg offers a proficient collection of “critical, historical, and theoretical texts on screendance,” an “interdisciplinary, hybrid form that has yet to be correctly sited as an academic field worthy of critical investigation,” according to the back of the book. Offered within three subcategories — Theories, Histories and Practices – the more academic handbook delivers a myriad of expert global perspectives on the rapidly evolving landscape of screendance. The thirty-six chapters present newly commissioned and original scholarship from an esteemed list of international leaders in the field including four Canadian contributors: Priscilla Guy, Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof and Alanna Thain.
When Music Meets Movement in Films
Movies, Moves & Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films
Mark Evans and Mary Fogarty, Equinox Publishing Ltd.
Taking another perspective on dance in the digital age is the 2016 book on the relationship of dance and music as it appears on the silver screen. Edited by Mark Evans and Mary Fogarty (Assistant Professor of Dance at York University in Toronto), and published by Equinox Publishing Ltd., this book takes a look at more popular, mainstream forms of dance and music. From chapters on “Individuality, Genre-Bending and Sexual Expression in Center Stage” to “Intertextuality in Bollywood Song-and-Dance Sequences” to “Race, Class, Sound and Space in Step Up and Step Up 2,” this book, through a collection of writing by various authors, explores the under-studied marriage of movement and music in the dance film genre.
Arts and Politics in Russia
Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today
Simon Morrison, Penguin Random House Knopf Canada
Turning to the turbulent history of Russia’s renowned Bolshoi Ballet, Simon Morrison (Professor of Music at Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times and New York Review of Books) unravels the seemingly never-ending, outlandish scandals that have plagued the company since its inception in 1776. From an onstage double suicide in 1928 to hurled acid in the face of the artistic director in 2013, scandal rages alongside the even deeper and darker implications of art under extreme political state censorship. Based on spirited archival research, this work of non-fiction travels through history, illuminating the bond between art and politics, and the juxtaposition between this ethereal art and its merciless underbelly.
Teaching Science Through the Arts
Fantastic Forces: Movement, Music and Science
Kate Kuper, Heritage Music Press
In today’s evolving educational environment, teachers are discovering the value of embodied learning. Author and teacher Kate Kuper specializes in offering educational tools utilizing creative movement. Her pairing with chemical and biomolecular engineer Troy Vogel led to the arts-meets-science collaboration for this book, published by Heritage Music Press. The book was designed as an instruction manual for teachers of grades three to five for physical education, creative movement or music. The book includes a CD of charming science and movement-based songs, a DVD instruction manual to help the teacher understand the movement ideas and downloadable journal pages for student reflection, encouraging a creative connection to scientific subject matter.
Publisher Human Kinetics has also released several new reads. Of particular note for the academically minded is Donna Krasnow and Mary Virginia Wilmerding-Pett’s Motor Learning and Control for Dance: Principles and Practices for Performers and Teachers. Also, for the aspiring dancer, there’s Dance Psychology for Artistic and Performance Excellence by Jim Taylor and Elena Estanol and Safe Dance Practice by Edel Quin, Sonia Rafferty and Charlotte Tomlinson
In addition, Sasha Kleinplatz recently put together a list of dance-related books compiled by various Canadian choreographers. Highlights for the Montréal dance artist include Are we here yet? by Meg Stuart, Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics by Ramon H. Rivera-servera and Rehearsing Collectivity: Choreography Beyond Dance. “I’m picking books that have been most useful to me in process and thinking about choreography in the context of community and possible futures we can move towards,” says Kleinplatz.
The above are books new to The Dance Current. If you have some great reads you’d like to mention, let us know below in the comments section.