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The modernisation of popular dance
Allison Abra

1 Dancing mad! The modernisation of popular dance I n October 1919 the Daily Express proclaimed that the British nation was ‘Dancing mad!’. London, the newspaper elaborated, ‘is stricken with the craze, and so also are the great towns throughout the country. The adult population of London at the present time can be roughly divided into three classes – those who are dancing, those who are learning, and those who want to do both.’1 A few months earlier, the Daily Mail had similarly commented that dancing was ‘the mania of the moment’, and even more strongly

in Dancing in the English style
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‘An autobiography at forty’
Alexandra Parsons

Derek was a great lover of the English countryside and he knew a lot about it and he liked to read and study the history of the countryside and we went to places he'd been in his childhood like Dancing Ledge, we went to Dorset and we filmed and we went down to the sea to the cliffs and I said to him, so Derek this is Dancing Ledge and he said oh no, no this is Winspit and I said where is Dancing Ledge then? And he pointed to the end of the bay about a mile and a half away as it stuck out in the

in Luminous presence
Open Access (free)
Moving beyond boundaries
Author:

Dance has always been a method of self- expression for human beings. This book examines the political power of dance and especially its transgressive potential. Focusing on readings of dance pioneers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, Gumboots dancers in the gold mines of South Africa, the One Billion Rising movement using dance to protest against gendered violence, dabkeh in Palestine and dance as protest against human rights abuse in Israel, the Sun Dance within the Native American Crow tribe, the book focuses on the political power of dance and moments in which dance transgresses politics articulated in words. Thus the book seeks ways in which reading political dance as interruption unsettles conceptions of politics and dance.

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Andy Warhol, Fred Herko, and the A-Men
Paisid Aramphongphan

postmodern dance, as we often think of that heady period of experimentation at the Judson Church, on the one hand, and of pop art, on the other, can be understood together through the question of efficiency and skills. For, among this group of friends, the lines between in/efficiency, trained/untrained, between professional/amateur became constantly blurred. While it may be tempting to read Warhol’s gaze at Herko, in film and in writing, as dance envy, as I have previously framed it, I have come to see Warhol’s fascination with Herko as a signal point, rather, of the

in Horizontal together
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Prophecy to Sun Woman I
Griselda Pollock

known of everyone, and there is evidence that she had met and danced with Pollock in the late 1930s. In the tale of the first meeting, on discovering they were both to be in the Graham show and lived quite near each other, Krasner called on the younger man (born in 1912 to her 1908 birthdate). She reports that when she first saw Pollock’s works in his studio, she was impressed, moved, overwhelmed, blasted, stunned, bowled over. Once she said that ‘she almost died’. 17 A dying woman meets a killing man? Art

in Killing Men & Dying Women
Creative movement and peacebuilding

This book explores the relationship between peacebuilding and dance, including insights dance provides on key debates around peace and conflict. It investigates the practice of a dance-focused peacebuilding programme and tells the important story of youth who engage in dance for peacebuilding in Colombia, the Philippines and the United States. In doing so, the book analyses the ways in which this programme fits into the broader global context. Incorporating participant voices, critical political analysis and reflections on dance practice, this book reveals important implications and nuances regarding arts-based peace initiatives that can also contribute to reflections on peacebuilding more broadly. In particular, investigating the role of empathy and embodiment further contributes to expanding perspectives on peacebuilding. As such, this book contributes to theory and practice while building critical understanding of the politics of integrating dance into peacebuilding. By exploring the politics of dancing peace, including benefits and challenges, and local and global connections, this book highlights and analyses key issues in arts-based peacebuilding approaches. As the global community continues to seek pathways to peace that are inclusive of people across differences – such as race, religion, gender, culture, age and locality – and that improve upon, supplement or replace existing dominant approaches, this book provides a valuable in-depth analysis and recommendations for practice.

Consumption, Americanisation and national identity in Britain, 1918–50
Author:

Popular dance in Britain fundamentally transformed in the early 1920s. This book explores the development, experience and cultural representation of popular dance in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. The specific focus is on two distinct yet occasionally overlapping commercial producers: the dance profession and the dance hall industry. The strong foreign, and increasingly American, influences on dancing directly connected this cultural form with questions about the autonomy and identity of the British nation. The book uses dancing as a lens through which to better understand broader historical processes of popular cultural production and consumption, and national identity construction. The first part of the book focuses on the efforts of dancing's producers to construct a standardised style and experience for British dancing, and the response to those efforts by consumers. These interactions determined which dances would find success in Britain, and how and where they would be performed. The second part demonstrates how these interactions between dancing's producers and consumers constructed, circulated, embodied, but also commodified, ideologies of gender, class, race and nation. The dance profession transformed the steps and figures of foreign dances like the foxtrot and tango into what became known as the 'English style' of ballroom dancing. The dance hall industry launched a series of novelty dances, such as the Lambeth Walk, that were celebrated for their British origins and character, and marketed the wartime dance floor as a site of patriotism and resistance.

The dance profession and the evolution of style
Allison Abra

2 Who makes new dances? The dance profession and the evolution of style I n 1920, from the pages of the Dancing Times, editor Philip J. S. Richardson praised the dancing public for having cast off the shackles of the tyrannical Victorian dance teacher, and for embracing the simple modern styles that allowed them to reclaim control over their dancing experience. He even compared this rebellion to the events of the recent war: ‘The modern ballroom dancer has revolted against the despotism of the Victorian dancing master … in the same way that in the great world

in Dancing in the English style
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Gender, sexuality and the representation of popular dance
Allison Abra

4 The dance evil: gender, sexuality and the representation of popular dance I n 1925, playwright J. Jefferson Farjeon wrote an article for the Dancing Times entitled ‘The Dance Evil’. Despite its suggestive title, Farjeon’s article was not an attack on dancing, but rather a lamentation over the way in which it was depicted on the stage. He argued that modern playwrights constantly vilified dancing in their work, although they themselves might not even be aware of it. The ‘attacks are subtle’, Farjeon wrote, ‘the war is below the surface. Though we have yet to

in Dancing in the English style
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Melanie Tebbutt

6 Dancing and gender ‘ A narchic’ dance styles assailed the popular imagination in the 1920s, subverting middle-class expectations of discipline and order and contesting the emotional equilibrium which many of the older generation sought to re-establish after the war. Such uninhibited, transgressive dancing seemed symptomatic of dissolving gender boundaries and embodied much broader fears about the alienation of modern life. Social dancing was largely acknowledged as a feminised form of physical expression, and the dance profession’s attempts to dispel these

in Being boys