Review Of "Dancing Across Borders: The American Fascination With Exotic Dance Forms" By S. Shay

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Also author of Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World (1999), Choreographic Politics: State Folk Dance Companies, Representation, and Power (CH, Jan'03, 40-2710), and Choreographing Identities: Folk Dance, Ethnicity, and Festival in the Unites States and Canada (CH, May'07, 44-4975), Shay notes that research for the last of these led to the current volume, which focuses on "outsiders" in the broader context of recreational and performance practices of "exotic" dance in the US from the mid-1990s through the present. Shay frames discussion with the writing of social scientists Margaret Somers and Gloria Gibson, particularly their notion of ontological narratives. He grounds his commentary in his extensive experience in his "home" genre (Balkan dance) and also discusses Asian and Southeast Asian classical dances, Latin American social dances, and Middle Eastern dances as practiced in the US by non-native dancers. For each genre, Shay looks at "gateways" that made these dances available to non-native US practitioners during the past 50 years. He also considers first encounters with the other, early performances, the international recreational folk dance movement, and the rise of world dance and ethnomusicology programs in colleges and universities. This is a valuable companion to Shay's earlier works. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.


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