I do think, even after a bunch of years, that Joann Kealiinohomoku’s article ‘An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance’ is the most useful thing I’ve ever read about dance. That, matched up with Jacqui Malone’s talk about kneebones. The basic idea is that culture and ethnicity are made very clear in the way we move our bodies. In dance, but in other places as well. These two were very important references in my development of ideas, but there are some other really useful sources that help develop my thinking (see list below). I wrote about Kealiinohomoku and Malone in a post called black – white dance in 2006, but it’s pretty much the foundation for everything I write about dance, and everything I think about dance when I’m dancing. And why I get really annoyed by lindy hoppers who point their toes.
The other half of this is of course Gender as a social construct.
All together, they add up to these points: the way you move is a product not only of biology and physiology (ie the stuff you were born with), but more importantly, a product of lifestyle and culture (the things you do with – and have done to – your body).
NB I was just looking over some early posts about my phd, which were written around 2004/2005. Before youtube. It really blows my mind that I did all this video-analysis work without youtube. Sheeeeet. It just shows how valuable file sharing sites like dance.poy were, and how much we owed to the dancers who made and then shared videos and DVDs of vintage clips.
Kealiinohomoku, Joann. “An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance.” What Is Dance? Readings in Theory and Criticism. Eds. Roger Copeland and Marshall Cohen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983. 533 – 49.
Malone, Jacqui. Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
Friedland, LeeEllen. “Social Commentary in African-American Movement Performance.” Â Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance. Ed. Brenda Farnell. London: Scarecrow Press, 1995. 136 – 57.
Pietrobruno, Sheenagh. “Embodying Canadian Multiculturalism: The Case of Salsa Dancing in Montreal.” Revista Mexicana de Estudios Canadienses nueva Ã©poca, nÃºmero 3. (2002).
[Edit: I think this is partly why I’m not a fan of high heels for lindy hop. They lengthen the leg and make the foot look really small.]