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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 This cutting-edge book features previously unpublished work by leading scholars of dance, theatre, politics, and management, alongside renowned contemporary choreographers, who propose innovative ways of looking at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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1. Cross-Currents of Dance and Politics: An Introduction (Alexandra Kolb)


Alexandra Kolb 1 Cross-Currents of Dance and Politics: An Introduction After all, dancing has no other purpose but to display beautiful bodies in graceful poses and develop lines that are pleasing to the eye. — Théophile Gautier 1837 It’s remarkable how prevalent is the assumption that dance draws up its skirts in panicked withdrawal from anything resembling real life. — Judith Mackrell 2004 If we believe the cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, in contemporary society everything has become political and therefore nothing is political.1 When categories such as the political or the aesthetic are generalised to the greatest possible extent, they lose their specificities and become utterly interchange- able (1999: 9). Baudrillard complains that the political sphere has become ‘increasingly transparent: the more it distends, the more it virtually ceases to exist. When everything is political, that is the end of politics as destiny: it is the beginning of politics as culture and the immediate poverty of that cultural politics’ (1997). This notion of the ‘political’ (as a category) becoming vacuous due to its excessive proliferation can also be observed in the field of dance studies. Here, the ubiquity of the buzzword ‘politics’ is evident in titles which refer to the politics of the ‘body’, ‘identity’ or ‘preservation’. For sure, the axis of 1 I am particularly indebted to Roger Copeland who provided valuable advice on a previous draft of this paper, and gratefully acknowledge further comments from Stacey Prickett and Jonathan Marshall. 2 Alexandra Kolb gender politics, race and nation has...

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