Celebrating National Dance Day, Sept 19, 2020

by Charles Watkinson on September 19, 2020

In an arts environment severely disrupted by COVID-19, the opportunities to participate in and enjoy live dance are constrained. However, there are lots of great opportunities online to appreciate the importance of dance and its strong connections to culture, politics, and movements for social change. Here are three resources that illustrate the range and reach of dance . . . from a Michigan perspective.

Corporeal Politics: Just published by University of Michigan Press, Corporeal Politics: Dancing East Asia presents a collection of essays by leading scholars (download the Table of Contents here) who investigate the intertwining of East Asian dance and politics. Edited by Katherine Mezur and Emily Wilcox, the book uses the lens of “Corporeal Politics” — the close attention to bodily acts in specific cultural contexts — to challenge existing dance the theater historical approaches. The title’s online edition includes video and image resources to enrich the experience of the reader. The online edition is presented on Fulcrum, the Press’s multimedia publishing platform. You can hear Dr. Wilcox talk about the experience of publishing on Fulcrum here.

Dunham’s Data: Situated just around the corner from University of Michigan Press, the National Archive for Data on Arts and Culture (part of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research – ICPSR) has just acquired a unique collection of materials chronicling the life of  Katherine Dunham, the legendary dancer, choreographer, and anthropologist. Born to an African American father and French Canadian mother, Dunham revolutionized American dance in the 1930s by drawing on black dance and rituals to design new forms of movement and culture. Called “the Matriarch of Black Dance,” Dunham founded a company that tour the world for two decades, introducing African American culture to 57 countries. In the 1940s and 1950s, her movies reached still larger audiences.

Senior Entrance of the University of Michigan Musical Theatre program (MT21): Every year the seniors of University of Michigan Musical Theatre program welcome new students to the program through a performance that mixes humor, social commentary, athleticism, and artistry. This year, the performance moves beyond the physical limitations of the University’s theater buildings to cover the whole campus, in a socially-distanced form. Enjoy on YouTube.

Under the leadership of its legendary acquiring editor, LeAnn Fields, University of Michigan Press is proud to have published many award-winning books in performing arts, including dance. Recently the Press is honored to have become the partner of the Dance Studies Association in the publication of Studies in Dance History — previously published with distinction by University of Wisconsin Press. Corporeal Politics is the first volume of Studies in Dance History to be published by Michigan. The Press’s Performing Arts titles can be found in the 2020/2021 catalogue.


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