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January 21, 2005

My annotated working bibliography on Afro-American Vernacular Dance

Posted by dogpossum on January 21, 2005 7:37 PM in the category

My chapterÂ’s focus on the Melbourne lindy hop community is reflected in my choice of texts which address ethnicity and cultural appropriation in af-am vernacular dance.
The texts most likely to appeal to the general reader or lindy hopper are marked with an asterix. These are also perhaps the most important books of Afro-American vernacular dance available. I have included no autobiographical works in this list

Card, Amanda. "The 'Great Articulation of the Inarticulate': Reading the Jazz Body in Australian and American Popular Culture in the 1960s." Journal of Australian Studies58 (1998): 18 - 28.

Copeland, Roger, and Marshall Cohen, eds. What Is Dance? Readings in Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.

DeFrantz, Thomas. "The Black Male Body in Concert Dance." Moving Words: Re-Writing Dance. Ed. Gay Morris. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 107 - 20.
[not entirely relevant, but de FrantzÂ’ interest in contemporary Afro-American vernacular music and dance and film are worth following up]

Desmond, Jane C. "Embodying Difference: Issues in Dance and Cultural Studies." Cultural Critique (Winter 1993 - 94): 33 - 63.
[an excellent essay addressing dance as a cultural practice. Uses cultural studies theory to consider how dances are transferred across cultures, and addresses issues of gender, class and race with satisfying depth]

*Emery, Lynne Fauley.Black Dance in the United States from 1619 to 1970. California: National Press Books, 1972.
[another key historical work addressing Afro-American vernacular dance. More rigorously researched but still some minor flaws]

Friedland, LeeEllen. "Social Commentary in African-American Movement Performance." Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance. Ed. Brenda Farnell. London: Scarecrow Press, 1995. 136 - 57.
[a really interesting article discussing the ways Afro-American children use dance and dance movement in every day life. Focuses on tap dance and contemporary dance, but fascinating for its attention to cultural, ethnically determined dance aesthetics and the socialization of dance movement in Afro-American culture]

Gere, David, et al., eds. Looking Out: Perspectives on Dance and Criticism in a Multicultural World. New York: Schirmer Books, 1995.

Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance. Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. "Stripping the Emperor: The Africanist Presence in
American Concert Dance." Looking Out: Perspectives on Dance and Criticism in a Multicultural World. Eds. David Gere, et al. New York: Schirmer Books, 1995. 95 - 121.
[somewhat ambitious in some of its claims about the influence of Afro-American dance and song in western culture, but worth reading for some of its discussion of ethnicised dance aesthetics.]

Griffin, Sean. "The Gang's All Here: Generic Versus Racial Integration in the 1940s Musical." Cinema Journal 42.1 (2002): 21 - 45.
[another work discussing Afro-American dance and song in Hollywood film. A useful read]

Hazzard-Gordon, Katrina. "African-American Vernacular Dance: Core Culture and Meaning Operatives." Journal of Black Studies 15.4 (1985): 427-45.

*Hazzard-Gordon, Katrina. Jookin': The Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.
[another of the key texts dealing with the history of Afro-American vernacular dance. Hazzard-Gordon, unlike many of the other historians in this vein, is Afro-American. Her book is fascinating for its emphasis on everyday dance spaces in af-am culture, rather than more elite institutions like ballrooms and studios. Her work is well researched and interesting]

Jackson, Jonathan David. "Improvisation in African-American Vernacular Dancing." Dance Research Journal 33.2 (2001/2002): 40 - 53.
[a fascinating and easier to read academic work on the topic of improvisation. Worth reading]

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.

Knight, Arthur. Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002.
[a book considering the representation of Afro-American dance and song in Hollywood film. An interesting background for dancers when watching archival film]

Koritz, Amy. "Re/Moving Boundaries: From Dance History to Cultural Studies." Moving Words: Re-Writing Dance. Ed. Gay Morris. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 88 - 103.

*Malone, Jaqui. Steppin' on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
[the most authoritative and well researched of the histories of Afro-American vernacular dance. Worth researching, particularly for its consideration of Afro-American marching bands]

*Murray, Albert. Stomping the Blues. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
[another of the key historical works on Afro-American vernacular jazz dance. Focuses primarily on music, but fascinating for its definitions of ‘blues’. It is not, though an example of solid research. Despite this, it is easier to read and worth looking through]

Pietrobruno, Sheenagh. "Embodying Canadian Multiculturalism: The Case of Salsa Dancing in Montreal." Revista Mexicana de Estudios Canadienses nueva época, número 3. (2002).
[considering salsa dancing in Canada, but interesting for the parallels between that dance community and Melbourne’s swing community. Especially in reference to the discussions of schools and cultural ‘authenticity’ in teaching]

*Stearns, Marshall, and Jean Stearns. Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance. 3rd ed. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.
[one of the longest-standing and most useful histories of Afro-American jazz/vernacular dance. There are some sections which have been queried for their historical accuracy (most notably the sections describing the ‘cat’s corner’ in the Savoy ballroom), which emphasise an inadequately rigorous research methodology, but still a useful, and easier read]

Thomas, Helen. Dance, Modernity and Culture: Explorations of the Sociology of Dance. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

Thomas, Helen. "Do You Want to Join the Dance? Postmodernism/Postructuralism, the Body, and Dance." Moving Words: Re-Writing Dance. Ed. Gay Morris. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 63 - 87.

Usner, Eric Martin. "Dancing in the Past, Living in the Present: Nostalgia and Race in Southern California Neo-Swing Dance Culture." Dance Research Journal 33.2 (2001/2002): 87 - 101.
[a somewhat dodgy article which does not demonstrate adequate field research. Still one of the few academic articles about post-revival lindy hop]

Influential films which feature lindy hop and are reasonably easy to get hold of:

*Potter, H. C., Dir. Hellzapoppin'. film, 1941.
[Includes perhaps the most important lindy hop film sequence featuring Frankie Manning and the WhiteyÂ’s Lindy Hoppers. This film also stars Dean Collins, who is probably the most important dancer in smooth or Hollywood style lindy hop. Collins is a white dancer generally credited with bringing lindy hop to the west coast of the USA].

*Woods, Sam, Dir. A Day at the Races. film, 1937.
[another important film sequence, featuring the same dancers

*Mura Dehn, Dir. The Spirit Moves: Part 1: Jazz Dance from the Turn of the Century 'til 1950. Film, 1950.
[this is an excellent film, but relatively difficult to get hold of. It may be in your local or state library, and can be purchased on video from the savoy style website]

Some useful websites with reliable information about lindy hop
*Pritchett, Judy. Archives of Early Lindy Hop. website. April 2004.
[features some nice historical clips and with excellent information]

*Loggins, Peter. The California Historical Jazz Dance Foundation website. The California Historical Jazz Dance Foundation. January 2004.

*"Progressive Era to New Era, 1900 - 1929. Prohibition: A Case Study of Progressive Reform. Harlem Rent Parties." webpage. The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress. January 2004.
[an example of archival material available online which refers to lindy hop and Afro-American communities of the ‘original swing era’]

*Loggins, Peter. "Informational: Styles of Lindy Hop." webpage. Jive Junction. Reuben Brown. Jive Junction. January 2004.
[An interesting article about the history of lindy hop styles. Loggins is one of lindy hopÂ’s most respected historians, and justifiably so]

Posted by dogpossum on January 21, 2005 7:37 PM in the category