Review Of "La Meri And Her Life In Dance: Performing The World" By N. L. C. Ruyter

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Ruyter (emer., Univ. of California, Irvine) has written two other books on North American dance in the 19th and 20th centuries, among them The Cultivation of Body and Mind in Nineteenth-Century American Delsartism (CH, Mar'00, 37-3846). To the present project she brings her perspective as a student of La Meri (1898–1988) as well as her extensive scholarship on various world dance traditions. This well-researched and extremely detailed chronicle of La Meri’s life, international performance career, teaching, and writing is a valuable resource for understanding the role "ethnic dance" (now world dance) played in shaping 20th-century North American concert dance. Ruyter acknowledges developments in the practice and theory of world dance, and at the same time celebrates the groundbreaking work done by La Meri (and other American dancers in the early to mid-1900s) in ethnic dance traditions. Taking La Meri as her example, Ruyter demonstrates how these pioneers introduced students, audiences, and professionals in Europe and the US to the history and various styles of international dance. In addition she points to ways the dances impacted current genres, both those distinct to one culture and those that exhibit fusion. The volume is enhanced by excerpts of reviews, archival documents, and La Meri’s own writings, and by numerous black-and-white photographs and several appendixes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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