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American Approaches to the Study of Dance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2019


As a companion piece to the previous article by Giurchescu and Torp, my focus here is to attempt to illuminate trends and approaches in dance research by American scholars. It will be seen that although the current generation of American dance ethnologists/anthropologists have their theoretical roots in American and British anthropology, the most widely-known American dance ethnologist, Gertrude Prokosch Kurath, was more closely aligned with European dance scholars of the 1930s and 1940s. At the risk of overstatement for the sake of discussion, I would characterize the focus of European dance researchers to be on the dance product and its authenticity, while the focus of American researchers is on what dance can tell us about society—or to simplify even further, choreological approaches vs contextual approaches.

Copyright © 1991 by the International Council for Traditional Music

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