Review Of "Choreography Narrative: Ballet's Staging Of Story And Desire" By S. L. Foster

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This complex and beautifully written investigation of ballet's development in France from the early 18th through the late 19th century extends Foster's earlier efforts to link dance theory and practice (see Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance, CH, Apr'87; Choreographing History, 1995; and Corporealities, CH, Jun'96). Foster (Univ. of California at Riverside) has become increasingly adept at presenting historical, physical, and theoretical dancing bodies in relation to one another via written texts. This volume situates ballet as a cultural practice and analyzes its progress in relation to economic, political, and social developments--tracing its evolution through specific danced narratives and emphasizing class, gender, and racial identities. Each of the five chapters focuses on an issue relevant to choreography and training. These are augmented by "interludes," which contextualize the theoretical issues. Foster's word images awaken the reader to his/her own physicality and to the connections between an individual's lived experience and history. In previous works Foster has moved in this direction; here she negotiates the gap between theory and the actual body with increasing ease and depth. Illustrations are ample and well chosen throughout; the text is supported and enlarged by numerous notes and an extensive bibliography. This work is a landmark in the field and belongs in all libraries serving undergraduate, graduate, and faculty researchers in dance.


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