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Critical Gestures: Writings on Dance and Culture. By Ann Daly. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002; pp. 320. $19.95 paper.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2004

André Torres Lepecki
Affiliation:
New York University

Extract

Western theatrical dance emerges in the late Renaissance as an increasingly autonomous art form. However, as theatrical dance strove toward the ideal of its own aesthetic self-sufficiency, toward an autonomy that would eventually confer it its place as a truly modern art form, dance developed a paradoxically intimate, intricate, and convoluted relationship with its other—writing. The historical persistence of a continuous dialoguing between dancing and writing indicates how dance's aspirations for aesthetic autonomy were precisely that: an impossible (modern) wishing. Historically, the role and function of writing in regards to dance has been one of partnering. This partnering has oscillated among three foundational modes of writings on dance: the archival (writing as the guarantor of dance's historical survival, as seen already in the late 1500s, in Arbeau's Orcheseography), the choreographic (writing as mode of composing dances directly on paper, as seen in the exams for the Académie Royale in late seventeenth-century France), and the writing of criticism. Of these three modes, criticism—understood as writing aimed at explaining or translating to an audience the opacity of dance's appearing—won't emerge in its incipient form until the late eighteenth century. This mode is today the most prominent role writing takes in relation to dance, in which the function of the critic is simultaneously to preserve and explain the dances she witnesses.

Type
Brief Report
Copyright
© 2004 The American Society for Theatre Research, Inc.

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Critical Gestures: Writings on Dance and Culture. By Ann Daly. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002; pp. 320. $19.95 paper.
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Critical Gestures: Writings on Dance and Culture. By Ann Daly. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002; pp. 320. $19.95 paper.
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Critical Gestures: Writings on Dance and Culture. By Ann Daly. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002; pp. 320. $19.95 paper.
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