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Long treated as peripheral to music history, dance has become prominent within musicological research, as a prime and popular subject for an increasing number of books, articles, conference papers and special symposiums. Despite this growing interest, there remains no thorough-going critical examination of the ways in which musicologists might engage with dance, thinking not only about specific repertoires or genres, but about fundamental commonalities between the two, including embodiment, agency, subjectivity and consciousness. This volume begins to fill this gap. Ten chapters illustrate a range of conceptual, historical and interpretive approaches that advance the interdisciplinary study of music and dance. This methodological eclecticism is a defining feature of the volume, integrating insights from critical theory, film and cultural studies, the visual arts, phenomenology, cultural anthropology and literary criticism into the study of music and dance.
The introduction describes the ten chapters of the volume, and how they provide models for a historically grounded musicology that recognizes relationships between gestures and words, music and dance, human bodies and social acts over time. It describes how these chapters address many of the challenges that arise in the study of European music and dance together: the ephemerality of performance, the fuzzy boundaries between theatrical and social dance, the legacies and inequalities associated with colonialism and imperialism, the complexity of the sources (choreographic notation and its absence, musical scores and their absences, film, treatises and reviews, to name just a few). It also grapples with the divides among related areas, disciplines and fields, including performance studies, theatre and dance history, comparative literature, film studies, philosophy, cognitive psychology, music theory, history, anthropology and sociology as well as musicology.
Addressing recent screen productions of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice (dir. Langton, BBC1, 1995; dir. Wright, 2005), and 1815 novel Emma (dir. Lawrence, ITV, 1996; dir. McGrath, 1996), Maribeth Clark explores the function of music, dance, drama and visuals in specific danced divertissements. She focuses on choreographed versions of social dance scenes set to the late-seventeenth-century music of Henry Purcell and his contemporaries up to the late eighteenth century. Her chapter describes an impulse towards unity and congruence, towards the establishment of a stable repertoire, a conservative tradition – a canon that builds on the work of those involved in the twentieth-century English country dance revival.