From Publishers Weekly
"My topic is hot: Race remains dangerous territory, and talking race through the black dancing body is tricky," notes Temple University dance professor Gottschild (Waltzing in the Dark) at the beginning of her exploration of "Africanist presences in performance." Gottschild's exploration of the geography of the black dancing body begins with her own story (as a young dancer in the late 1950s, she recalls, her long-legged, slim-hipped body "got me in trouble" when more "feminine" bodies were in fashion). The author would also audition for Broadway shows, yet knew African-Americans rarely made the cut. This very personal exploration ranges from the question of what black dance is, to the role and perceptions of various body parts, from feet to hair. Along the way, the author interviews 24 leading dancers and choreographers (not all African-American), including Trisha Brown, Bill T. Jones, Shelley Washington and Ralph Lemon, representing a variety of dance eras, idioms and traditions. Anyone interested in dance and in African-American culture will find much to ponder here.
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"Anyone interested in dance and in African-American culture will find much to ponder here."--Publishers Weekly Annex
"Dixon Gottschild's happiest readers will share her adventurousness, her inclination to listen deeply and learn, and her honesty." --Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Dance Magazine
"For anyone who's ever sat in an audience wondering why the folks onstage look so very unlike the folks outside, this invigorating, argumentative, and highly personable book is a must." --Laura Shapiro, New York Magazine
"With typical generosity, Brenda Dixon Gottschild convenes a discussion of some of the most crucial issues defining black-white relations in contemporary American society. Skillfully weaving her own voice among those of diverse artists, she raises questions about racial stereotypes, expectations, and prejudices as they are experienced by performers and viewers. Because it focuses on the dancing body, situating its cultivation of physicality as part of more general cultural elaborations of corporeality, The Black Dancing Body addresses the experience of race at a profound and vital level. Candidly pursuing the racialized experiences of feet, butts, hair, and skin, Dixon Gottschild gives readers an abundance of perspectives, both historical and cultural, on the physical. She invites readers into a dialogue, marked by honesty, courage, and soul, that is capable of moving our bodies and our spirits."--Susan Foster, author of Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance
"The Black Dancing Body is a fresh and surprising collage of a book. It walks around its subject, looking at it from new angles, carefully knocking down cliches and stereotypes, allowing dancers' voices to be heard. The quietest, truest voice is the author's own, as she meditates on her own body and the associations it calls up from her own dancing past and her life as an African American woman. This book must be read, to understand once again why our culture is such a painful and exhilarating mixture of black and white elements, and why, in the midst of celebrating the mixture, we must never forget the African-American contribution."--Elizabeth Kendall, author of American Daughter: Discovering My Mother