Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Review: Dancing, The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement

I found this book at my local used book store. I make it a habit of quickly browsing the dance books and looking for anything that references Middle Eastern Dance.

This book is a really great primer on the evolution of dance. It starts with the Europeans discovery of dance in Polynesia, India and Greece. There are some very detailed sections on dance in Africa and Asia. A chapter called Lord of the Dance is an introduction to dance and religion including some of the very first dance stage shows depicting Salome (great photos). I especially liked the sections on dance and religion.

The largest section on Middle Eastern Dance is in the chapter on social dance. It is interesting to see how social dance differs from culture to culture. This chapter also details how MED was introduced to Europe and the Western World. In the chapter on modernizing dance, I loved the section on Ruth St. Denis. She is someone I would like to read more about.

Ruth St. Denis in 1904

In no way is this book just about ethnic dance, there are sections on modern dance and contemporaries such as Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp.

I am really glad I found this book. The pictures are incredible and it would make a good coffee table book just for photo flipping. I recommend this book to anyone with any interest in dance.

The very last photo in the whole book is Michael Jackson
from the Smooth Criminal video


Anonymous said...

is this book still in print?

Jen said...

As far as I can tell. The title on my post is a link to the book for sale on Amazon. Their description says the text describes an edition that is out of print so I think it is a newer edition that is for sale.
There is a review on Amazon that says this book was used as text for a dance class and I can see why. It is very thorough and the best thing I have ever read on dance history.