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Books on dance criticism

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Hello all,

I'm looking for books dealing with dance criticism, both theory and actual reviews' anthologies, but as I need to order them from abroad (there's little to be found on the subject in France) I'm not sure what books to get first. This is partly for scholarly purposes, so I'd be very grateful if anyone could point out to the most important publications in the area, the ones that would be recommended reading for a dance criticism course (for instance).

About Arlene Croce : has anyone read Dance Criticism of Arlene Croce : Articulating a Vision of Artistry, 1973-1987, by Marc Raymond Strauss ? What did you think ?

Also I see her earlier anthologies (Afterimages, Going to the dance...) are out of print on Amazon - is it worth getting used copies ? I'm not sure how much of them is left out in Writing in the Dark.

I would also be grateful for opinions on the following books, since I can't buy everything either :

  • What is dance ? Readings in Theory and Criticism
  • Moving Words : Re-Writing Dance, edited by Gay Morris
  • Researching Dance : Evolving Modes of Inquiry, edited by Sandra Horton Fraleigh and Penelope Hanstein
  • Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints, by Joan Acocella
  • Deborah Jewitt's two collections of reviews, both out of print
  • Understanding dance, by Graham McFee
  • Ann Daly's Critical Gestures

I'm basically interested in dance criticism over the last century, but I still need to figure out what I want to focus on, so any ideas and comments would be very welcome. Any publications dealing with the very (evolving) status of art criticism and that would be mandatory reading in English ?

Thank you very much in advance !

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re: croce WRITING IN THE DARK is a good place to start, it represents writings the author thinks best represent her work nowadays. (if you gain further interest, the individual collections would be worth having for what WRITING doesn't include. (I haven't read Strauss's study.)

WHAT IS DANCE is another good start as it might lead to other areas and writers you'll want to explore more thoroughly.

MOVING WORDS is another good sampler to comb for possible further readings.

i don't see DANCE WRITINGS by Edwin Denby on your list. i would recommend this, as follows:Denby, Edwin, 1903-

Dance writings / Edwin Denby ; edited by Robert Cornfield and William MacKay. 1st ed. New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1986. xi, 608 p. - this has been recently reprinted by University of Florida Press

another overview might be:

First we take Manhattan : four American women and the New York school of dance criticism / Diana Theodores. Amsterdam : Harwood Academic Publishers, c1996.

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Azulynn, I think you'd enjoy the Marc Raymond Strauss book. The author "proposes" that Croce "sought nothing less than to determine specific and unambiguous prerequisites for dance as exemplified by the historical continuum of classicism in art," and he focuses on "three specific elements of artistic excellence to which Croce uniformly adheres: sympathetic musicality, Apollonian craftsmanship and enlivening tradition." He believes these derive from principles first articulated in Aristotle's Poetics .

The book consists of 10 chapters, each followed by a Croce essay which, strangely, Strauss doesn't comment on. ('Gentle reader, decide for yourself now if my theories are correct,' I guess). Specific chapters focus on the formalist tradition in art, philosophy and literary analysis, the history of dance criticism up until the time Croce began writing, journalism at The New Yorker, the ethics of dance criticism and just what the job entails, Croce's use of rhetorical devices ("declarations and pronouncements"), and more. At one point he likens Croce to a participant-observer anthropologist. It's that kind of a book, and I can only wonder what Croce thinks of his analysis, and if other critics find it useful in thinking about their own work.

At the end Strauss includes an apprendix on "topics in Croce's essays." How often, if he's correct, did she write about NYCB? 55 times. The runner-up, or runner way down, is ABT, at 22 times.

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I would recommend getting all of Croce’s books eventually, but for your immediate purposes “Writing in the Dark” will do. (However, "Afterimages" contains a lot of material in which Croce responds directly to other writers and is openly critical of them - they put her views in context and tells you something about what others were writing at the time. I think it's worth adding to the list.)

I would suggest including Deborah Jowitt’s “Time and the Dancing Image."

There’s an anthology I have at home that I found helpful as a sampler but I can’t recall the title offhand – it may even be on your list. I’ll see if I can find it and post the title and the editor’s name.

I agree with liebs about Acocella’s book.

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Thank you all for your suggestions, they're very much appreciated.

Rg, I didn't add Denby to the list since I've already ordered the book, but I look forward to reading him. Thanks again for taking the time to answer - I hope others will feel free to add their thoughts as well.

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