Perspectives on American Dance:
The Twentieth Century

Edited by Jennifer Atkins, Sally R. Sommer, and Tricia Henry Young

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“Unpredictable. Counterintuitive. Stunningly conceived. So you think you know dance history? These anthologies are full of revelations.”—Mindy Aloff, editor of Leaps in the Dark: Art and the World
 
“This is a picture of American dance—and a picture of America through dance—as we have not conceived of it before, advancing the bold and capacious idea that movement can illuminate who Americans are and who they want to be. A startlingly original compilation that includes stops in the unlikeliest places, it makes the case that following the moving body into every byway of life reveals an America that has been hiding in plain sight. It will be impossible to think of this subject in the same way again.”—Suzanne Carbonneau, George Mason University and scholar-in-residence, Jacob’s Pillow  
 
Dancing embodies cultural history and beliefs, and each dance carries with it features of the place where it originated. Influenced by different social, political, and environmental circumstances, dances change and adapt. American dance evolved in large part through combinations of multiple styles and forms that arrived with each new group of immigrants. Perspectives on American Dance is the first anthology in over twenty-five years to focus exclusively on American dance practices across a wide span of American culture. This volume and its companion show how social experience, courtship, sexualities, and other aspects of life in America are translated through dancing into spatial patterns, gestures, and partner relationships.
 
In this volume of Perspectives on American Dance, the contributors explore a variety of subjects: white businessmen in Prescott, Arizona, who created a “Smoki tribe” that performed “authentic” Hopi dances for over seventy years; swing dancing by Japanese American teens in World War II internment camps; African American jazz dancing in the work of ballet choreographer Ruth Page; dancing in early Hollywood movie musicals; how critics identified “American” qualities in the dancing of ballerina Nana Gollner; the politics of dancing with the American flag; English Country Dance as translated into American communities; Bob Fosse’s sociopolitical choreography; and early break dancing as Latino political protest.
 
The accessible essays use a combination of movement analysis, thematic interpretation, and historical context to convey the vitality and variety of American dance. They offer new insights on American dance practices while simultaneously illustrating how dancing functions as an essential template for American culture and identity.
 
Jennifer Atkins is associate professor of dance at Florida State University. Sally R. Sommer is professor of dance and director of the FSU in NYC program at Florida State University. Tricia Henry Young is professor emerita of dance history and former director of the American Dance Studies program at Florida State University.     
 
 
Contributors: Jennifer Atkins | Kathaleen Boche | Cutler Edwards | Karen Eliot | Lizzie Leopold | Julie Malnig | Adrienne L. McLean | Joellen A. Meglin | Dara Milovanovic | Jill Nunes Jensen | Marta Robertson | Lynette Russell | Sally Sommer, Ph.D. | Daniel J. Walkowitz | Sara Wolf, Ph.D. | Tricia Henry Young 
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