Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance / Edition 1

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Few will dispute the profound influence that African American music and movement has had in American and world culture. Dancing Many Drums explores that influence through a groundbreaking collection of essays on African American dance history, theory, and practice. In so doing, it reevaluates "black" and "African American " as both racial and dance categories. Abundantly illustrated, the volume includes images of a wide variety of dance forms and performers, from ring shouts, vaudeville, and social dances to professional dance companies and Hollywood movie dancing.

Bringing together issues of race, gender, politics, history, and dance, Dancing Many Drums ranges widely, including discussions of dance instruction songs, the blues aesthetic, and Katherine Dunham’s controversial ballet about lynching, Southland. In addition, there are two photo essays: the first on African dance in New York by noted dance photographer Mansa Mussa, and another on the 1934 "African opera," Kykunkor, or the Witch Woman.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dancing Many Drums unearths many artists and performance companies whose work should be made available to the scholarly community and the general public. DeFrantz presents new scholarship by new writers who are well versed in the history of African American dancing, many through actual dance practice."—Anita Gonzalez, Florida State University
Presents a collection of 11 essays exploring the influence of African American music and movement in the American and world culture. Addressing issues of race, gender, politics, history, and dance, the volume includes discussion of Christian conversion and the challenge of dance; dance and identity politics in American Negro Vaudeville, the blues aesthetic, and other topics. Exceptionally good and plentiful b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299173142
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Studies in Dance History Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas F. DeFrantz is associate professor of music and theater arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (Oxford U Press, 2004). In addition to scholarly articles, he has written on dance for the Village Voice and Philadelphia Inquirer. He is a dancer and choreographer and for many years directed the dance history program at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City.

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Table of Contents

African American Dance: A Complex History 3
1 Christian Conversion and the Challenge of Dance 39
2 Dance and Identity Politics in American Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters, 1900-1935 59
3 Awkward Moves: Dance Lessons from the 1940s 81
4 (Up)Staging the Primitive: Pearl Primus and "the Negro Problem" in American Dance 105
5 African Dance in New York City 143
6 From "Messin' Around" to "Funky Western Civilization": The Rise and Fall of Dance Instruction Songs 169
7 "Moves on Top of Blues": Dianne McIntyre's Blues Aesthetic 205
8 Kykunkor, or the Witch Woman: An African Opera in America, 1934 233
9 Between Two Eras: "Norton and Margot" in the Afro-American Entertainment World 267
10 Katherine Dunham's Southland: Protest in the Face of Repression 289
11 The New York Negro Ballet in Great Britain 317
Contributors 343
Index 347
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