Review Of "Dancing Lives: Five Female Dancers From The Ballet D'Action To Merce Cunningham" By K. Eliot

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Drawing on significant library research and on paintings, photographs, poems, videotapes, and interviews, Eliot (Ohio State Univ.; former member, Merce Cunningham Dance Company) offers portraits of Giovanna Baccelli, Adele Dumilatre, Tamara Karsavina, Moira Shearer, and Catherine Kerr. In looking at these five dancers, Eliot describes an arc regarding female dancing in the Western theatrical context from the 1700s through the early 21st century. Situating each woman and her dance career within a specific cultural context, the author investigates economic, political, and social factors impacting each dancer's development, life as a professional, and legacy. Looking to related work--Rethinking the Sylph: New Perspectives on the Romantic Ballet, ed. by Lynn Garafola (CH, Jul'98, 35-6158) and Sally Banes's outstanding Dancing Women: Female Bodies on Stage (CH, Nov'98, 36-1503)--the author emphasizes the kinesthetic experiences of her subjects and their centrality to the dance-making process of various choreographers. Her account links the five performers' experiences by exploring the actual physical work (the embodied practice) of each woman's dancing. This accessible resource offers less experienced scholars of dance easy entry into studying dance as cultural history. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates through faculty.


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

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