The Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities

The Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities

The Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities

The Male Dancer: Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities

Synopsis

In this challenging and lively book, Burt examines the representation of masculinity in twentieth century dance. The Male Dancerhas proven to be essential reading for anyone interested in dance and the cultural construction of gender.

Excerpt

The manuscript of the first edition of The Male Dancer was completed in March 1994. Since then, as I discovered while working on this revised and expanded second edition, new research has been published in some of the areas that my book covered but not in others. For instance, although I’d seen the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater live in the uk, I could hardly find anything written about Ailey’s work or indeed about African American dance in general in the uk. This has now changed and there is a growing and important body of scholarship addressing both that deals with this from theoretical and historical perspectives. More has now also been written about Shawn and Graham, though there is little significant change to our understanding of Nijinsky, apart from the new translation of his diaries. When I was writing in the early 1990s, I felt I was moving into largely uncharted territory in writing about male dancers and homosexuality. This is no longer the case so that, perhaps, the fact that I have also discussed heterosexual masculinities is now a distinguishing aspect of the book.

In preparing the new edition I have added discussions of works created since 1994. Dance studies has also moved on since then and I have added discussions of older works that have been the subject of new research. I have cut all the references to psychoanalysis that were in the first edition, not because I no longer think it offers useful insights but because dance scholars in general have been so resistant to it that I feel this is not the best place to advocate it. I’ve also cut what was the second chapter of the first edition that focused on dance and philosophy through an examination of theories of expression, phenomenology and hermeneutic philosophy, and post-structuralist theory. Most of what I said about dance theory there is now somewhat out of date. Central to The Male Dancer, however, is a theory of spectatorship based on ideas about the male gaze which were adapted from feminist film theory. While these ideas in general have attracted widespread criticism from dance scholars, my own use of them has not attracted much comment. Some of the hostility within dance studies towards these feminist ideas, in my opinion, is due to the fact that . . .

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