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Books for Black Dance Legacy
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Dancing the Black Question: The Phoenix Dance Company Phenomenon
By: Christy Adair

A dynamic cultural history of the internationally celebrated Phoenix Dance Company, unique in several ways: its members were in their teens when they formed the company in 1981, they gained recognition very early in their careers through an established television arts program in 1984, they were skillful performers but had not received formal training, they were based in the north of England at a time when most dance centered in London (and New York), and they were black British men who had known each other since childhood, coming from a tight-knit African-Caribbean community. As children, they learned a lot from London Contemporary Dance Theatre and watched videos of Twyla Tharp, Netherlands Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey Company. This complex narrative, played out through gender, ethnicity and class, places Phoenix as a significant artistic force in contemporary dance. One of the paradoxes it faced was the expectation by funding bodies, critics and audiences that it represent the black community. Such expectations posed a challenge for each successive artistic director. This provocative story investigates institutional racism on the part of arts policy makers, funders and critics.

           
         

Katherine Dunham: Dancing A Life

By: Joyce Aschenbrenner

 

Throughout the better part of the twentieth century, and in performance halls, classrooms, and communities throughout the world, the wellspring of Katherine Dunham's remarkable career can be traced to the intersection of dance, culture, and society. More than a recounting of Dunham's accomplishments as a dancer and choreographer, this biography is the first to thoroughly examine her pioneering contributions to dance anthropology and her commitment to humanizing society through the arts. Founder of the first self-supporting African American dance company, Dunham relied on her fieldwork as an anthropologist to fundamentally change modern dance. She shaped new dance techniques and introduced other cultures to U.S. and European audiences by fusing Caribbean and African-based movement with ballet and modern dance. Her revolutionary approaches to dance and its greater connection to the world have influenced a generation of dancers, theatrical performers, and scholars.

           
           

Revelations: The Autobiography of Alvin Ailey

By: A. Peter Bailey

 

Though choreographer Ailey (1931-1989), founder and artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, lived for 30 years in the public eye, the details of his life and character have remained largely mysterious, glimpsed only in such acclaimed signature works as "Revelations'' (1960). The African American dancer, brought up in small-town, segregated Texas, was born to poverty. In his autobiography, he remembers ``branches slashing against [his] child's body that is glued to his mother's body as they walk through the mud in bare feet, going from one place to another.'' Ailey reveals the feelings of inferiority that plagued him throughout his life, from his brief but promising sortie as an actor to his ultimate success in the dance world. He also tells of his single, disappointing conversation with his father, Alvin Ailey Sr.; his mother's rape; his own mental breakdown in 1980, precipitated by the death of his friend and colleague Joyce Trisler; and his descent into drug dependency, leading to his hospitalization.

           
         

Performing Blackness: Enactments of African-American Modernism 

By: Kimberly W. Benston

 

Performing Blackness offers a challenging interpretation of black cultural expression since the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Exploring drama, music, poetry, sermons, and criticism, Benston offers an exciting meditation on modern black performance's role in realising African-American aspirations for autonomy and authority. Artists covered include: John Coltrane, Ntozake Shange, Ed Bullins, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, Michael Harper. Performing Blackness is an exciting contribution to the ongoing debate about the vitality and importance of black culture.

           
         

My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle's Journey to Alvin Ailey
By: Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome, Robert Battle

 

A boy discovers his passion for dance and becomes a modern hero in this inspiring picture book biography of Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Robert Battle was a boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he’d study at Juilliard. Though most dancers begin training at an early age, it wasn’t until Robert was a teenager that his appreciation for movement—first from martial arts, then for ballet—became his passion. But support from his family and teachers paired with his desire and determination made it possible for Robert to excel. After years of hard work, the young man who was so inspired by a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations became the artistic director of the very company that motivated him. Today, under Robert’s leadership, Alvin Ailey continues to represent the African American spirit through dance.

           
         


Life In Motion:An Unlikely Ballerina

By: Misty Copeland

In this instant  New York Times  bestseller, Misty Copeland makes history, telling the story of her journey to become the first African-American principal ballerina at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, underprivileged, and anxious thirteen-year-old to become one of America’s most groundbreaking dancers . A true prodigy, she was attempting in months roles that take most dancers years to master. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life, she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind. 

           
          Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance

By: Thomas DeFrantz

 

Few will dispute the profound influence that African American music and movement has had in American and world culture. Dancing Many Drums explores that influence through a groundbreaking collection of essays on African American dance history, theory, and practice. In so doing, it re-evaluates black and African American as both racial and dance categories. Abundantly illustrated, the volume includes images of a wide variety of dance forms and performers, from ring shouts, vaudeville, and social dances to professional dance companies and Hollywood movie dancing.

           
          Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture

By: Thomas DeFrantz

 

In the early 1960s, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was a small, multi-racial company of dancers that performed the works of its founding choreographer and other emerging artists. By the late 1960s, the company had become a well-known African American artistic group closely tied to the Civil Rights struggle. In Dancing Revelations, Thomas DeFrantz chronicles the troupe's journey from a small modern dance company to one of the premier institutions of African American culture. He not only charts this rise to national and international renown, but also contextualizes this progress within the civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights struggles of the late 20th century.

           
         

The Spirit Moves – African-American Dance History – Savoy Style (video)

By: Mura Dehn

 

Jazz dance from the turn of the century to 1950: "Filmed at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the 1950s, Part 1 features demonstrations of ragtime and jazz dances by well-known artists at the Savoy, including James Berry, Pepsi Bethel, Teddy Brown, Sandra Gibson, Leon James, Al Minns and Frankie Manning. Dances in Part 1 include the Cakewalk, Charleston, Black Bottom, Suzie Q, Shake Blues, Gutbucket Blues, Trunky Doo.

           
         

Marion D. Cuyjet and her Judimar School of Dance. Training Ballerinas in Black Philadelphia 1948-1971

By: Melanye White Dixon

 

A comprehensive study of pioneering ballet pedagogue Marion D. Cuyjet who established one of the first dance institutions in the US that provided classical ballet training for African American dancers.

           
           

Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance

By:  Jennifer Dunning

 

Alvin Ailey (1931–1989) was a choreographic giant in the modern dance world and a champion of African-American talent and culture. His interracial Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater provided opportunities to black dancers and choreographers when no one else would. His acclaimed “Revelations” remains one of the most performed modern dance pieces in the twentieth century. But he led a tortured life, filled with insecurity and self-loathing. Raised in poverty in rural Texas by his single mother, he managed to find success early in his career, but by the 1970s his creativity had waned. He turned to drugs, alcohol, and gay bars and suffered a nervous breakdown in 1980. He was secretive about his private life, including his homosexuality, and, unbeknownst to most at the time, died from AIDS-related complications at age 58.Now, for the first time, the complete story of Ailey's life and work is revealed in this biography. Based on his personal journals and hundreds of interviews with those who knew him, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Judith Jamison, Lena Horne, Katherine Dunham, Sidney Poitier, and Dustin Hoffman, Alvin Ailey is a moving story of a man who wove his life and culture into his dance.

           
         

Island Possessed

By: Katherine Dunham

 

Just as surely as Haiti is "possessed" by the gods and spirits of vaudun (voodoo), the island "possessed" Katherine Dunham when she first went there in 1936 to study dance and ritual. In this book, Dunham reveals how her anthropological research, her work in dance, and her fascination for the people and cults of Haiti worked their spell, catapulting her into experiences that she was often lucky to survive. Here Dunham tells how the island came to be possessed by the demons of voodoo and other cults imported from various parts of Africa, as well as by the deep class divisions, particularly between blacks and mulattos, and the political hatred still very much in evidence today. Full of the flare and suspense of immersion in a strange and enchanting culture, Island Possessed is also a pioneering work in the anthropology of dance and a fascinating document on Haitian politics and voodoo.

           
         

Journey to Accompong

By: Katherine Dunham

 

High in the mountains in the northeastern part of Jamaica, lies the Maroon village of Accompong. There, by train, automobile and mule-back, Katherine Dunham, young American Negro dancer, choreographer and anthropologist, went to study the Koromantee dances.

           
         

A Touch of Innocence: Memoirs of Childhood

By: Katherine Dunham

 

An internationally known dancer, choreographer, and gifted anthropologist, Katherine Dunham was born to a black American tailor and a well-to-do French Canadian woman twenty years his senior. This book is Dunham’s story of the chaos and conflict that entered her childhood after her mother’s early death. In stark prose, she tells of growing up in both black and white households and of the divisions of race and class in Chicago that become the harsh realities of her young life. A riveting narrative of one girl’s struggle to transcend the painful confusions of a family and culture in turmoil, Dunham’s story is full of the clarity, candor, and intelligence that lifted her above her troubled beginnings.

           
         

Kaiso!: Writings By and About Katherine Dunham
By: Katherine Dunham, Veve A. Clark

“Kaiso,” a term of praise that is the calypso equivalent of “bravo,” is a fitting title for this definitive and celebratory collection of writings by and about Katherine Dunham, the legendary African American dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and social activist. Originally produced in the 1970s, this is a newly revised and much expanded edition that includes recent scholarly articles, Dunham’s essays on dance and anthropology, press reviews, interviews, and chapters from Dunham’s unpublished volume of memoirs, “Minefields.” With nearly a hundred selections by dozens of authors, Kaiso! provides invaluable insight into the life and work of this pioneering anthropologist and performer and is certain to become an essential resource for scholars and general readers interested in social anthropology, dance history, African American studies, or Katherine Dunham herself.

           
           

African-American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader

By: Harry Justin Elam, David Krasner

 

African-American Performance and Theatre History is an anthology of critical writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and performance in America. Assembled by two esteemed scholars in black theater and composed of essays from acknowledged authorities in the field, this volume is organized into four sections representative of the ways black theater, drama, and performance past and present interact and enact continuous social, cultural, and political dialogues. The premise behind the book is that analyzing African-American theater and performance traditions offers insight into how race has operated and continues to operate in American society. The only one-volume collection of its kind, this volume is likely to become the central reference for those studying black theater.

           
           

Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement and Working it Out

By: Nadine George-Grave

 

Provocative, moving, powerful, explicit, strong, unapologetic. These are a few words that have been used to describe the groundbreaking Brooklyn-based dance troupe Urban Bush Women. Their unique aesthetic borrows from classical and contemporary dance techniques and theater characterization exercises, incorporates breath and vocalization, and employs space and movement to instill their performances with emotion and purpose. Urban Bush Women concerts are also deeply rooted in community activism, using socially conscious performances in places around the country—from the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, and the Joyce, to community centers and school auditoriums—to inspire audience members to engage in neighborhood change and challenge stereotypes of gender, race, and class. Nadine George-Graves presents a comprehensive history of Urban Bush Women since their founding in 1984. She analyzes their complex work, drawing on interviews with current and former dancers and her own observation of and participation in Urban Bush Women rehearsals. This illustrated book captures the grace and power of the dancers in motion and provides an absorbing look at an innovative company that continues to raise the bar for socially conscious dance.

           
           

The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters and the Negotiation of Race, Gender, Class in African American Theatre: 1900-1940

By: Nadine George-Graves

 

The Whitman Sisters were the highest paid act on the Negro Vaudeville Circuit, Theater Owner Booking Association (Toby), and one of the longest surviving touring companies (1899-1942). The group was considered the greatest incubator of dancing talent for Negro shows on or off Toby, and significantly contributed to American theater and dance history. In The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville, Nadine George-Graves provides an historical narrative of their achievements and uses black feminist theories, feminist theories of performance, and theories of class and popular culture to analyze the many layers of performance in which the Whitman Sisters participated, on and off the stage. She shows that these four black women manipulated their race, gender and class to resist hegemonic forces while achieving success. By maintaining a high-class image, they were able to challenge fictions of racial and gender identity.

           
         

No Surrender! No Retreat!: African American Pioneer Performers of Twentieth American Theatre
By: Glenda Eloise Gill

No Surrender! No Retreat! examines the careers of fifteen pioneer performers and their triumphs over herculean obstacles. It is a look back over the 20th century and documents personal histories of staggering achievement in spite of institutional racism, gender oppression, and classism. Twenty-four years in the making, No Surrender! No Retreat! is an indispensable work on African Americans in the performing arts, examining well-known performers, such as James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Pearl Bailey. Rare archival material and a number of personal interviews enrich this tome. Glenda E. Gill s work is a moving and sometimes tragic account of the lives and careers of some of America s most outstanding African American pioneers in theater.

           
         

The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool
By: Brenda Dixon Gottschild

What is the essence of black dance in America? To answer that question, Brenda Dixon Gottschild maps an unorthodox 'geography', the geography of the black dancing body, to show the central place black dance has in American culture. From the feet to the butt, to hair to skin/face, and beyond to the soul/spirit, Brenda Dixon Gottschild talks to some of the greatest choreographers of our day including Garth Fagan, Francesca Harper, Meredith Monk, Brenda Buffalino, Doug Elkins, Ralph Lemon, Fernando Bujones, Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Jawole Zollar, Bebe Miller, Sean Curran and Shelly Washington to look at the evolution of black dance and it's importance to American culture. This is a groundbreaking piece of work by one of the foremost African-American dance critics of our day.

           
         

Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era
By: Brenda Dixon Gottschild

The career of Norton and Margot, a ballroom dance team whose work was thwarted by the racial tenets of the era, serves as the barometer of the times and acts as the tour guide on this excursion through the worlds of African American vaudeville, black and white America during the swing era, the European touring circuit, and pre-Civil Rights era racial etiquette.

           
         

Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts
By: Brenda Dixon Gottschild

This ground-breaking work brings dance into current discussions of the African presence in American culture. Dixon Gottschild argues that the Africanist aesthetic has been invisibilized by the pervasive force of racism. This book provides evidence to correct and balance the record, investigating the Africanist presence as a conditioning factor in shaping American performance, onstage and in everyday life. She examines the Africanist presence in American dance forms particularly in George Balanchine's Americanized style of ballet, (post)modern dance, and blackface minstrelsy. Hip hop culture and rap are related to contemporary performance, showing how a disenfranchised culture affects the culture in power.

           
         

Jookin’: The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture
By: Katrina Hazzard-Gordon

Katrina Hazzard-Gordon offers the first analysis of the development of the jook―an underground cultural institution created by the black working class―together with other dance arenas in African-American culture. Beginning with the effects of African slaves’ middle passage experience on their traditional dances, she traces the unique and virtually autonomous dance culture that developed in the rural South. Like the blues, these secular dance forms and institutions were brought north and urbanized by migrating blacks. In northern cities, some aspects of black dance became integrated into white culture and commercialized. Focusing on ten African-American dance arenas from the period of enslavement to the mid-twentieth century, this book explores the jooks, honky-tonks, rent parties, and after-hours joints as well as the licensed membership clubs, dance halls, cabarets, and the dances of the black elite.

           
         

No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Dance/Percussion Notation
By: Ethnomusicologist Doris Green
Published by: Eloquent Books, Durham, CT

No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation is the autobiography of a woman who goes to Africa not only to conduct research and study music and dance but to share her knowledge with Africans, showing them how their music can be preserved in print. Join Doris Green on her voyage from Tanzania to Senegal. Experience what it means to go into countries where English is not spoken. Read how she conquers this linguistic divide with the creation of the only system wherein African music and dance can be written in a single integrated score to be read and performed from the printout. Doris Green's autobiography gives African culture the scientific basis it formerly lacked. It is no longer an oral tradition. Publisher's website: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/NoLongerAnOralTradition- MyJourneyThroughPercussionNotation.html

           
           

A Broke Dancer's Guide to Success
By: Kayla Harley

A dancer is more than an abled body moving in space. A dancer has the ability to live a life free of being “broke” living paycheck to paycheck, begging, scraping and borrowing by transforming their strong points as artists into- handling their affairs with intention and a sound mind. By tapping into your intuition, inherent sense of self and applying that which you've developed as performers to daily life, you can position yourself for success and longevity. This book shows you how to conduct yourself even if you don’t have the ideal financial situation. This book outlines the importance of financial wellness, professional etiquette, the use of practical tools and budgeting, planning and self-management. Foreword by Princess Grace, Bessie Award Winning Choreographer, Camille A. Brown and other Exceptional Professionals.
           
         

The Traveling Dancer
By: Kayla Harley

Travel plays a huge role in the life of a dancer, in fact most of their time spent outside of the studio or the stage is in commute. Whether it's traveling across town or flying across the country dancers are constantly on the GO! The challenge with travel is that it can be overwhelming if you're not mindful, careful or intentional with your strides. A dancer's professional career and personal sustainability relays on their ability to adapt to new environments. Here you will find information that merges the sanctity of a dancers professional life with simple guidelines for success in a traveling dancer’s personal life. In this book, we discuss tips and tricks for a dancer to stay healthy, punctual and prepared throughout their travels. Everything from minimalism, packing tips, to saving money, keys to self-management, and creative gestures for a stress free journey.
           
           

A History of African American Theatre
By: Errol Hill, James Vernon Hatch

This definitive history of African-American theatre embraces companies from across the U.S., as well as the anglophone Caribbean and African-American companies touring Europe, Australia and Africa. Representing a catholicity of styles, from African ritual to European forms, amateur to professional, and political nationalism to integration, the volume covers all aspects of performance. It includes minstrel, vaudeville, and cabaret acts, as well as shows written by whites that used black casts.

           
           

Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers
By: Constance Valis Hill

Tap dancing legends Fayard (b. 1914) and Harold (1918-2000) Nicholas amazed crowds with their performances in musicals and films from the 30s to the 80s. They performed with Gene Kelly in The Pirate, with Cab Calloway in Stormy Weather, with Dorothy Dandridge (Harold's wife) in Sun Valley Serenade, and with a number of other stars on the stage and on the screen. Author Hill not only guides readers through the brothers' showstopping successes and the repressive times in which their dancing won them universal acclaim, she also offers extensive insight into the history and choreography of tap dancing, bringing readers up to speed on the art form in which the Nicholas Brothers excelled.

           
           

Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History
By: Constance Valis Hill

In Tap Dancing America, Constance Valis Hill, herself an accomplished jazz tap dancer, choreographer, and performance scholar, begins with a dramatic account of a buck dance challenge between Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Harry Swinton at Brooklyn's Bijou Theatre, on March 30, 1900, and proceeds decade by decade through the 20th century to the present day. She vividly describes tap's musical styles and steps -- from buck-and-wing and ragtime stepping at the turn of the century; jazz tapping to the rhythms of hot jazz, swing, and bebop in the '20s, '30s and '40s; to hip-hop-inflected hitting and hoofing in heels (high and low) from the 1990s right up to today. Tap was long considered "a man's game," and Hill's is the first history to highlight such outstanding female dancers as Ada Overton Walker, Kitty O'Neill, and Alice Whitman, at the turn of the 20th century, as well as the pioneering women composers of the tap renaissance, in the 70s and 80s, and the hard-hitting rhythm-tapping women of the millennium such as Chloe Arnold, Ayodele Casel, Michelle Dorrance, and Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards.

           
           

Dancing Spirit: An Autobiography
By: Judith Jamison, Howard Kaplan

Dancing Spirit contains vivid  portraits of many artists Jamison has worked with  including Agnes de Mille, Alvin Ailey, Jessye Norman,  Geoffrey Holder, Carmen de Lavallade, and Mikhail  Baryshnikov, to name only a few. And Jamison talks  frankly about the price exacted by a dancer's  nomadic life--rootlessness, fleeting relationships,  the obsession with physical beauty. Illustrated with  sixty photographs, Dancing Spirit  is a candid and immediate self-portrait of a  unique American artist whose work has left an indelible  mark on the world of  dance.

           
           

Resistance, Parody and Double Consciousness in African American Theatre, 1895-1910
By: David Krasner

The history of African American performance and theatre is a topic that few scholars have closely studied or discussed as a critical part of American culture. In this fascinating interdisciplinary volume, David Krasner reveals such a history to be a tremendously rich one, focusing particularly on the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the 20th century. The fields of history, black literary theory, cultural studies, performance studies and postcolonial theory are utilized in an examination of several major productions. In addition, Krasner looks at the aesthetic significance of African American performers on the American stage and the meaning of the technique entitled "cakewalking." Investigating expressions of protest within the theatre, Krasner reveals that this period was replete with moments of resistance to racism, parodies of the minstrel tradition, and double consciousness on the part of performers. An enlightening work which unveils new information about its subject, Resistance, Parody, and Double Consciousness in African American Theatre offers insights into African American artistry during an era of racism and conflict.

           
           

Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins
By: Yael Tamar Lewin

Dancer Janet Collins, born in New Orleans in 1917 and raised in Los Angeles, soared high over the color line as the first African-American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera. Night’s Dancer chronicles the life of this extraordinary and elusive woman, who became a unique concert dance soloist as well as a black trailblazer in the white world of classical ballet. During her career, Collins endured an era in which racial bias prevailed, and subsequently prevented her from appearing in the South. Nonetheless, her brilliant performances transformed the way black dancers were viewed in ballet. The book begins with an unfinished memoir written by Collins in which she gives a captivating account of her childhood and young adult years, including her rejection by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Dance scholar Yaël Tamar Lewin then picks up the thread of Collins’s story. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with Collins and her family, friends, and colleagues to explore Collins’s development as a dancer, choreographer, and painter, Lewin gives us a profoundly moving portrait of an artist of indomitable spirit.

           
           

Dance in Hispanic Cultures; Vol. 3
By: Daniel Lewis
Published by: Harwood Academic Publishers 1994

The papers in this collection focuses on dance themes in nations and populations related by language, history and customs to Spain and Latin America and explores the social, religious, anthropological, folkloric and political roles which dance has played in Hispanic cultures. Vibrant dance life in Spain, Central and South America, the Philippines, New York and Miami attests to the very strength of the current that dance in Hispanic culture continues to offer. The essays examine such topics as new Latin dance, cosmic imagery in the religious dances of Seville's Golden Age, Fanny Elssler in Havana, Don Quixote in the 20th century as a mirror for choreographers, Bronislave Nikinska's Bolero, the Hispanic influence on Leonide Massine, Carlos Chavez's Aztec ballets, Spanish dance in multinational performances 500 years ago, and Carmen Amaya's Flamenco dance in South American vaudeville.

           
           

The Black Tradition in American Dance
By: Richard A. Long, Joe Nash

Chronicles the achievements of noted black dancers and choreographers, combining the observations of contemporary critics with a definitive history of African-American dance, from the early minstrels through the dance dramas of Asadata Dafora and modern companies.

           
           

Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance
By Jacqui Malone

Steppin' on the Blues explores not only the meaning of dance in African American life but also the ways in which music, song, and dance are interrelated in African American culture. Dance as it has emanated from the black community is a pervasive, vital, and distinctive form of expression--its movements speak eloquently of African American values and aesthetics. Beyond that it has been, finally, one of the most important means of cultural survival.

           
           

Stomping the Blues
By: Albert Murray

In this classic work of American music writing, renowned critic Albert Murray argues beautifully and authoritatively that “the blues as such are synonymous with low spirits. Not only is its express purpose to make people feel good, which is to say in high spirits, but in the process of doing so it is actually expected to generate a disposition that is both elegantly playful and heroic in its nonchalance.” In Stomping the Blues Murray explores its history, influences, development, and meaning as only he can. More than two hundred vintage photographs capture the ambiance Murray evokes in lyrical prose. Only the sounds are missing from this lyrical, sensual tribute to the blues.

           
           

Fighting For Honor: History of African Martial Arts Traditions in the Atlantic World
By: T.J. Desch Obi
Published by: South Carolina University Press

The presence of African influence and tradition in the Americas has long been recognized in art, music, language, agriculture, and religion. T. J. Desch Obi explores another cultural continuity that is as old as eighteenth-century slave settlements in South America and as contemporary as hip-hop culture. In this thorough survey of the history of African martial arts techniques, Obi maps the translation of numerous physical combat techniques across three continents and several centuries to illustrate how these practices evolved over time and are still recognizable in American culture today. Some of these art traditions were part of African military training while others were for self-defense and spiritual discipline. Grounded in historical and cultural anthropological methodologies, Obi's investigation traces the influence of well-delineated African traditions on long-observed but misunderstood African and African American cultural activities in North America, Brazil, and the Caribbean.

           
         

The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves
By: Halifu Osumare

Asserting that hip hop culture has become another locus of postmodernity, Osumare explores the intricacies of this phenomenon from the beginning of the Twenty-First century, tracing the aesthetic and socio-political path of the currency of hip hop across the globe.

           
           

Black Choreographers Moving: A National Dialogue
By Halifu Osumare, Julinda Lewis-Ferguson

The panels and papers in this anthology were presented at the first conference devoted to Black dance, held in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1989. The most interesting debate focuses on the definition of an Afro-American aesthetic. Brenda Dixon ties the responsive patterns of dance movements to the deliberate asymmetry that characterizes the visual arts in Africa; Osumare argues that African-American dance continues an African tradition of functionalism in art. The arguments over the relationship between criticism and black dance apparently grew quite heated, although the discussions prove inconclusive. This intriguing exploration of the links between art and ethnicity has become an ongoing series: A second festival was held in 1991, and a third is slated for 1992.

           
           

Dancing in Blackness. A Memoir: The Life and Times of Halifu Osumare
By: Halifu Osumare
Published by: University Press of Florida

Dancing in Blackness is a professional dancer's personal journey over four decades, across three continents and twenty-three countries, and through defining moments in the story of black dance in America. In this memoir, Halifu Osumare reflects on what blackness and dance have meant to her life and international career.

           
           

African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond
By: John O. Perpener

Advances the study of pioneering black dancers by providing biographical and historical information on a group of artists who worked during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s to legitimize dance of the African diaspora. This title sets these seminal artists and their innovations in the contexts of African-American culture and American modern dance.


           
           
           
         

America Dancing: From the Cakewalk to the Moonwalk
By: Megan Pugh

Using the stories of tapper Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, ballet and Broadway choreographer Agnes de Mille, choreographer Paul Taylor, and Michael Jackson, Megan Pugh shows how freedom—that nebulous, contested American ideal—emerges as a genre-defining aesthetic. In Pugh’s account, ballerinas mingle with slumming thrill-seekers, and hoedowns show up on elite opera house stages. Steps invented by slaves on antebellum plantations captivate the British royalty and the Parisian avant-garde. Dances were better boundary crossers than their dancers, however, and the issues of race and class that haunt everyday life shadow American dance as well. Deftly narrated, America Dancing demonstrates the centrality of dance in American art, life, and identity, taking us to watershed moments when the nation worked out a sense of itself through public movement.

           
           

Cabin in the Sky: A Musical Fantasy (DVD)
By: Lynn Root
Music by: Vernon Duke
Lyrics by: John Latouche
Production Staged by: George Balanchine
Book Directed by: Albert Lewis
Setting and Costumes designed by: Boris Aaronson

Little Joe, a compulsive gambler, promises his wife, Petunia, that he'll quit gambling and be a moral man. Soon after, he is killed over his gambling debts. Joe then has six months to redeem his soul and enter Heaven “ otherwise he will be condemned to Hell. Lucifer Jr. and his sexy representative, Georgia Brown, try to push Joe toward sin. While the General and Petunia work to convince Joe to save his soul.

           
         

Glory: A Life Among Legends
By: Dr. Glory Van Scott

Dr. Van Scott’s memoir of her extraordinary life soars as high as a dancer leaping across a stage—and it brims with the passion, beauty, and inspiration Glory imparts to everything she touches. Activist: In 1955, when she was just a girl, her cousin, Emmett Till, was murdered. Even through her anger, Glory knew that if she lay down in the mire and horror of her family tragedy, she would sink. It was her realization that she and her family were not the only ones in pain that helped her to cope. “People are in pain all the time. You won’t feel yours after a while if you’re busy making sure somebody else is lifted.”

           
           

Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance
By: Marshall Winslow Stearns, Jeans Stearns

The phrase jazz dance has a special meaning for professionals who dance to jazz music (they use it to describe non-tap body movement); and another meaning for studios coast to coast teaching 'Modern Jazz Dance' (a blend of Euro-American styles that owes little to jazz and less to jazz rhythms). However, we are dealing here with what may eventually be referred to as jazz dance, and we could not think of a more suitable title.

           
         

Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy
By: Robert Farris Thompson

This landmark book shows how five African civilizations—Yoruba, Kongo, Ejagham, Mande and Cross River—have informed and are reflected in the aesthetic, social and metaphysical traditions (music, sculpture, textiles, architecture, religion, idiogrammatic writing) of black people in the United States, Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil and other places in the New World.

           
           

Tango: The Art History of Love
By: Robert Farris Thompson

In this generously illustrated book, world-renowned Yale art historian Robert Farris Thompson gives us the definitive account of tango, "the fabulous dance of the past hundred years–and the most beautiful, in the opinion of Martha Graham.” Thompson traces tango’s evolution in the nineteenth century under European, Andalusian-Gaucho, and African influences through its representations by Hollywood and dramatizations in dance halls throughout the world. He shows us tango not only as brilliant choreography but also as text, music, art, and philosophy of life. Passionately argued and unparalleled in its research, its synthesis, and its depth of understanding, Tango: The Art History of Love is a monumental achievement.

           
         

Dancing Class: Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Divides in American Dance, 1890-1920
By: Linda J. Tomko

Tomko blazes a new trail in dance scholarship by interconnecting U.S. History and dance studies.... the first to argue successfully that middle-class U.S. women promoted a new dance practice to manage industrial changes, crowded urban living, massive immigration, and interchange and repositioning among different classes." ―Choice  From salons to dance halls to settlement houses, new dance practices at the turn of the century became a vehicle for expressing cultural issues and negotiating matters of gender. By examining master narratives of modern dance history, this provocative and insightful book demonstrates the cultural agency of Progressive-era dance practices.