Choreography and Narrative

Choreography and Narrative : Ballet's Staging of Story and Desire

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Undoubtedly, Choreography and Narrative is an important contribution to dance history research." -Nineteenth-Century French StudiesThis work is a landmark in the field and belongs in all libraries serving undergraduate, graduate, and faculty researchers in dance." -ChoiceInvents a new method for writing the history of performance: Foster has found an innovative way of appealing directly to the kinesthetic imagination of her readers, evoking the elusive styles of the pieces she reconstructs." -Joseph RoachAn impressive work of scholarship, this elegantly staged study... uses the concept of a culturally constructed, historically specific body to cut across disciplinary boundaries..." -Library JournalFoster examines the development of ballet, and conceptions of the dancing body, as ballet separated from opera and emerged as an autonomous art form during the turbulence of 18th-century French society and history.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 392 pages
  • 179.3 x 254.8 x 28.7mm | 960.45g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 88 b&w photos
  • 0253212162
  • 9780253212160
  • 1,212,476

Review quote

This complex and beautifully written investigation of ballet's development in France from the early 18th through the late 19th century extends Foster's earlier efforts to link dance theory and practice (see Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance, CH, Apr'87; Choreographing History, 1995; and Corporealities, CH, Jun'96). Foster (Univ. of California at Riverside) has become increasingly adept at presenting historical, physical, and theoretical dancing bodies in relation to one another via written texts. This volume situates ballet as a cultural practice and analyzes its progress in relation to economic, political, and social developments-tracing its evolution through specific danced narratives and emphasizing class, gender, and racial identities. Each of the five chapters focuses on an issue relevant to choreography and training. These are augmented by interludes, which contextualize the theoretical issues. Foster's word images awaken the reader to his/her own physicality and to the connections between an individual's lived experience and history. In previous works Foster has moved in this direction; here she negotiates the gap between theory and the actual body with increasing ease and depth. Illustrations are ample and well chosen throughout; the text is supported and enlarged by numerous notes and an extensive bibliography. This work is a landmark in the field and belongs in all libraries serving undergraduate, graduate, and faculty researchers in dance.April 1997 -- S. E. Friedler * Swarthmore College *show more

Back cover copy

Choreography and Narrative traces development of the story ballet from the early - eighteenth-century fair theatres through the Revolutionary fetes to the well-known Romantic ballets La Sulphide and Giselle. This history charts ballet's separation from opera at mid-century and its emergence as an autonomous art form dedicated to the telling of a story through gesture and movement alone. The site for this historical inquiry is Paris, home to the most popular and lavish dance productions of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The ballet is analyzed in terms of the training procedures for dancers, the aesthetic goals and responsibilities of choreographers, the institutional frameworks that promote productions, and the expectations and pleasures of dance viewers. Throughout, ballet is approached as a cultural practice intimately connected with political and economic features of French society, a practice whose evolving form bears witness to, as it participates in, the sweeping social changes of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. To uncover the significance of ballet, Choreography and Narrative compares the dancing body with the body as constructed in social dance practices, and also in anatomy, etiquette, painting, acting, and physical education. Choreography is considered as a theorizing of embodiment, one which reflects on the individual, gendered, and social identities of those who dance and those who watch dancing.show more

Table of contents

IllustrationsPrefaceIntroduction: Pygmalion's No-Boby and The Body of Dance1. Originary Gestures 13Painting the situations of the soul Vanishing physicalitiesTransgressive gestures Originating the action balletThe Bank of Grass (le banc de gazon)Telemaque dans l'ile de Calipso (1759)On One Side, On the Other; Above and BelowArlequin Soldat Magicien, ou le Canonier, Pantomime (1764)2. Staging the Canvas and the MachineSpectacular dancing bodies Horizontal and vertical perfectionChallenging hierarchy The more sensible machineMake the Scheme KnownJason et Medee (1771)The Invigilant DancerApelles et Campaspe (1776)3. Narrating Passion and ProwessDancing the action A passion for anatomyThe language of dance The self-filled bodyThe DuelMirza (1779)The Earth Trembles: The Thunder RoarsLe Premier Navigateur, ou le Pouvoir de l'Amour (1785)Escape into the HeavensHercule et Omphale, Pantomime en 1 Acte (1787)4. Governing the BodyThe street, the stage, the nation Muscular geometryVirtuoso docility Governing the Body politicThe Magically Inscribed MessageLes Royalistes de la Vendee, ou les Epoux Republicains,Pantomime en Trois Actes (1794)To Throw Oneself in the Arms Of(Se Jeter dans les bras)La Dansomanie (1800)Begin and End with DancingNina, ou La Folle par Amour (1813)Tell-Tale EvidenceLes Pages du Duc de Vendome (1820)5. Fugitive DesiresCruel nocturnal dancing Crafting diversionDancing the object of desire The dissolving object of the gazeMaking Merry/Gazing OnLa Sylphide (1832)Maybe Yes; Maybe NoLa Voliere, ou les Oiseaux de Boccace (1838)Dark SpacesGiselle, ou les Wilis (1841)Conclusion: Ballet's Bodies and The Body of Narrativeapendixnotesbibliographyindexshow more

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