Europe Dancing: Perspectives on Theatre Dance and Cultural Identity

Europe Dancing: Perspectives on Theatre Dance and Cultural Identity

Europe Dancing: Perspectives on Theatre Dance and Cultural Identity

Europe Dancing: Perspectives on Theatre Dance and Cultural Identity


Europe Dancing examines the dance cultures and movements which have developed in Europe since the Second World War. Nine countries are represented in this unique collaboration between European dance scholars. The contributors chart the art form, and discuss the outside influences which have shaped it.This comprehensive book explores:* questions of identity within individual countries, within Europe, and in relation to the USA* the East/West cultural division* the development of state subsidy for dance* the rise of contemporary dance as an 'alternative' genre* the implications for dance of political, economic and social change.Useful historical charts are included to trace significant dance and political events throughout the twentieth century in each country.Never before has this information been gathered together in one place. This book is essential reading for everyone interested in dance and its growth and development in recent years.


Stephanie Jordan and Andrée Grau

Newspaper headlines for the New York festival ‘Dancing in the Isles: British Invasion 97’ informed readers at various stages that ‘The Troupes are on the Way’, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘The British are Leaving’. There was reference to a ‘Brit Pack’ while Clive Barnes, noting that virtually all Siobhan Davies’ teachers were American imports, suggested that ‘coming here, she remains something of a colonial showing off her art in the home country’ (Barnes 1997).

American quotations may seem incongruous to introduce a book on dance in Europe. Yet these bombastic headlines and titles highlight in their own way what this volume is about: they barely conceal a number of ironies clustering around issues of identity, difference, history, power, and centre-periphery debates. Just how British was any of the dance showcased during this festival, for example? Several of the performing companies are international in personnel: the Jonathan Burrows Group reputedly appears more frequently on the continent of Europe than within Britain and the Ricochet Dance company show was dominated by the work of Javier de Frutos, a Venezuelan choreographer now resident in London. Making a flying visit to speak on ‘Anti-dance’ was Lloyd Newson, Australian director of DV8 Physical Theatre, which was touring elsewhere in the US at the time and must surely be one of the most nomadic, root-eclectic of all companies based in Britain in the late 1990s.

Speaking the international lingua franca often renders people rather parochial, imagining that their world-view is the only existing one, or at least the only one of any real importance. This leads us to a second reason why the ‘American’ start is appropriate. Wanting to look at post-war dance in Europe has undoubtedly a political element in it. The US dominated the world economy for the past five decades and Europe has responded through the creation of the European Union and over the years through the incorporation of more and more countries within it. A book on dance in Europe could then be seen as paralleling this movement, showing that, although the American imports have been invaluable to the development of dance in Europe, there have also been many indigenous currents that are just as important.

Starting from an American standpoint also highlights the United Kingdom’s ambiguous relationship with ‘Europe’. Crossing the Channel, for example, the

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