(Re:) Claiming Ballet (Book)

This anthology explores alternative and parallel influences that shape the culture of ballet. The ‘we’ of ballet is complex, encompassing individuals and communities, often marginalized, who contribute to discourses about ballet beyond the mainstream white, patriarchal, Eurocentric, heterosexual constructs of gender, race and class. 8 b/w illus.

Category: Performing Arts

Edition

The collection of essays demonstrates that ballet is not a single White Western dance form but has been shaped by a range of other cultures. In so doing, the authors open a conversation and contribute to the discourse beyond the vantage point of mainstream to look at such issues as homosexuality and race. And to demonstrate that ballet’s denial of the first and exclusion of the second needs rethinking.

This is an important contribution to dance scholarship.  The contributors include professional ballet dancers and teachers, choreographers, and dance scholars in the UK, Europe and the USA to give a three dimensional overview of the field of ballet beyond the traditional mainstream.

It sets out to acknowledge the alternative and parallel influences that have shaped the culture of ballet and demonstrates they are alive, kicking, and have a rich history. Ballet is complex and encompasses individuals and communities, often invisiblized, but who have contributed to the diaspora of ballet in the 21st Century. It will initiate conversations and contribute to discourses about the panorama of ballet beyond the narrow vantage point of the mainstream  - white, patriarchal, Eurocentric, heterosexual constructs of gender, race and class.

This book is certain to be a much-valued resource within the field of ballet studies, as well as an important contribution to dance scholarship more broadly.  It has an original focus and brings together issues more commonly addressed only in journals, where issues of race are frequently discussed.

The primary market will be academic.  It will appeal to academics, researchers, scholars and students working and studying in dance, theatre and performance arts, and cultural studies.  It will also be of interest to dance professionals and practitioners.

Academics and students interested in the intersection of gender, race and dance may also find it interesting.

Dr Adesola Akinleye is a choreographer. She began her career dancing with Dance Theatre of Harlem, later working with Green Candle, Carol Straker and Union. Currently she creates dance works ranging from live performance that is often site-specific and involves a cross-section of the community to dance films, installations and texts. Her work is characterized by an interest voicing peoples’ lived experiences through creative moving portraiture. A key aspect of her process is the artistry of opening creative practices to everyone, from ballerinas to women in low-wage employment to performance for young audiences. Akinleye was awarded Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award, the ADAD Trailblazer Award and One Dance UK Champion Trailblazer and Woman of the Year in Community Dance by the Town of Islip, New York. In 2018 she was shortlisted for One Dance UK’s Impact in Dance Writing Award. She is a fellow of RSA. Akinleye is a Senior Lecture at Middlesex University.

Introduction: Regarding claiming ballet / reclaiming ballet

Part One – Histories

Chapter 1: Ballet, from property to Art – Adesola Akinleye

Chapter 2: Should there be a Female ballet canon? Seven Radical Acts of Inclusion - Julia Gleich and Molly Faulkner

Chapter 3: Arabesque en Noir: The Persistent Presence of Black Dancers in the American Ballet World - Joselli Audain Deans 

Chapter 4: Portrayals of Black people from the African Diaspora in western narrative ballets – Sandie Bourne

Part Two – Knowledges  

Chapter 5: The traces of my ballet body - Mary Savva  

Chapter 6: Ballet Beyond Boundaries – Personal History. Brenda Dixson Gottschild  

Chapter 7:“Auftanzen statt Aufgeben” and The Anti Fascist Ballet School -Elizabeth Ward 

Chapter 8: Dancing Across Historically Racist Borders – Kehinde Ishangi 

Part Three – Resiliences  

Chapter 9: Dance Theatre of Harlem’s radicalization of ballet in 1970s & 1980s – Theresa Ruth Howard  

Chapter 10: Personal testimony as social resilience - Theara J. Ward 

Chapter 11: “Can you feel it?”: Pioneering Pedagogies that Challenge Ballet’s Authoritarian Traditions - Jessica Zeller 

Chapter 12: The Ever After of Ballet – Selby Wynn Schwartz 

Chapter 13: Ballethnic Dance Company Builds Community: Urban Nutcracker leads the way – Nena Gilreath

Part four – Consciousnesses 

Chapter 14: The Counterpoint Project – When Life Doesn’t Imitate Art -  Endalyn Taylor

Chapter 15: Ballet’s Binary Genders in a Rainbow-Spectrum World:

A call for progressive pedagogies - Melonie B. Murray  

Chapter 16: Dancing through Black British ballet: Conversations with dancers - Adesola Akinleye and Tia-Monique Uzor 

Chapter 17: Ballet Aesthetics of Trauma, Development, and Functionality – Luc Vanier & Elizabeth Johnson 

About the contributors 

Index 

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