Dancing Women: Female Bodies on Stage

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Dancing Women: Female Bodies Onstage is a spectacular and timely contribution to dance history, recasting canonical dance since the early nineteenth century in terms of a feminist perspective.
Setting the creation of specific dances in socio-political and cultural contexts, Sally Banes shows that choreographers have created representations of women that are shaped by - and that in part shape - society's continuing debates about sexuality and female identity.
Broad in its scope and compelling in its argument Dancing Women:

• provides a series of re-readings of the canon, from Romantic and Russian
Imperial ballet to contemporary ballet and modern dance

• investigates the gaps between plot and performance that create sexual and gendered meanings

• examines how women's agency is created in dance through aspects of choreographic structure and style

• analyzes a range of women's images - including brides, mistresses, mothers, sisters, witches, wraiths, enchanted princesses, peasants, revolutionaries, cowgirls,
scientists, and athletes - as well as the creation of various women's communities on the dance stage

• suggests approaches to issues of gender in postmodern dance
Using an interpretive strategy different from that of other feminist dance historians, who have stressed either victimization or celebration of women, Banes finds a much more complex range of cultural representations of gender identities.

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book, 1998.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this thoughtful and thought-provoking work, dance critic and historian Banes Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance, LJ 12/1/79 surveys the canon of Western dance through a feminist lens, arguing that "choreographers have created images of women that are shaped byand that in part shapesociety's continuing debate about sexuality and female identity." According to Banes, "through dance, men's attitudes toward women and women's attitudes about themselves are literally given body on stage." Some 13 ballets and ten modern dance works are described in choreographic detail and analyzed in sociological terms. The time period covered extends from the mid- and late 19th through the middle decades of the 20th century. Accented with photographs of key moments and movements, this study will be a welcome addition to performing arts and women's history collections.Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
From the Romantic ballet to modern ballet, dance historian Banes examines 23 works, including La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Revolutionary Etude, The Rite of Spring, Witch Dance, and Rodeo, and analyses how representations of women in dance are connected to society's complex notions of gender. She particularly focuses on what she terms "the marriage plot," and argues that dance has, for the most part, participated in and reflected the growing European and American anxiety toward marriage as it is associated with women's destiny. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415111621
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally Banes is Marian Hannah Winter Professor of Theatre and Dance History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published widely on dance.

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Table of Contents

List of plates
Note on transliteration
Introduction 1
1 The Romantic ballet: La Sylphide, Giselle, Coppelia 12
2 The Russian Imperial ballet: The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake 42
3 Early modern dance: Fire Dance, Lily, Brahms Waltzes, Mother, Revolutionary Etude, Radha 66
4 Early modern ballet: Firebird, The Rite of Spring, Les Noces 94
5 Modern dance: Witch Dance, With My Red Fires, Rites de Passage, Night Journey 123
6 Modern ballet: Jardin aux Lilas, A Wedding Bouquet, Rodeo, Agon 168
Envoi: recent developments 215
Notes 232
Index 272
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