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Dance and Politics

Edited By Alexandra Kolb

This is the first anthology to explore the fertile intersection of dance and political studies. It offers new perspectives on the connections of dance to governmental, state and party politics, war, nationalism, activism, terrorism, human rights, political ideologies and cultural policy. This cutting-edge book features previously unpublished work by leading scholars of dance, theatre, politics, and management, alongside renowned contemporary choreographers, who propose innovative ways of looking at twentieth- and twenty-first-century dance.
Topics covered range across the political spectrum: from dance tendencies under fascism to the use of choreography for revolutionary socialist ends; from the capacity of dance to reflect the modern market economy to its function in campaigns for peace and justice. The book also contains a comprehensive introduction to the relations between dance and politics.
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2 The Death of the Choreographer

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The Paradigm Shifts

The summer of 2009 marked a melancholy milestone in the history of dance as an art form. Two of the great living choreographers, Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham, died within a depressingly brief span of thirty days. The pantheon of ‘world class’ choreographers who had dominated Western theatrical dance in the second half of the twentieth century was left greatly impoverished. But from the perspective of academic dance studies, the era that Bausch and Cunningham represented – that of ‘The Great Western Individual Choreographer’ – had already come and gone.

Alas, even the most superficial survey of the subjects now approved for doctoral dissertations (or for presentations at academic conferences) reveals a drastic swing of the pendulum away from dances created by ‘individual’ Western choreographers such as Nijinsky, Ashton, Tudor, Graham, Balanchine, Cunningham, Tharp, Morris (et al.) and toward traditional, culture-specific and/or collectivist movement-forms such as salsa, flamenco, kapa haka, break dancing, capoeira, contra-dance, belly dancing, Bharata Natyam and contact improvisation.

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