Communities in Motion: Dance, Community, and Tradition in America's Southeast and Beyond

Communities in Motion: Dance, Community, and Tradition in America's Southeast and Beyond

Communities in Motion: Dance, Community, and Tradition in America's Southeast and Beyond

Communities in Motion: Dance, Community, and Tradition in America's Southeast and Beyond

Synopsis

For the first time, a book on vernacular dance provides detailed case studies about a range of forms: old-time square dancing in Virginia, Indiana, and Newfoundland; African-American step shows; clogging; Cherokee traditional dance; historical reconstructions of 18th-century dance; and modern contra. This book fills a need from graduate studies to high schools, which are mandated under the Educate America Act to teach dance in historical and cultural perspective. Those interested in folklore, anthropology, dance history, ethnology, aesthetics, American Studies, Appalachian Studies, and more, will benefit from this work as they learn how vernacular dance reflects and shapes communities.

Excerpt

Early on, we believed it was possible to confine ourselves to "old-time dancing in the Appalachian mountains"--to unassailably "traditional" dances that were distinctly Appalachian and that had come to us in an unbroken line from a distant past.

Our narrow focus was immediately challenged by the authors. These were individuals whom we first got to know while organizing East Tennessee State University's Center for Appalachian Studies and Services conferences on vernacular dance in 1989 and 1990--conferences that inspired us to commission the articles for Communities in Motion. For example, folklorist and dance ethnologist Colin Quigley finds intriguing similarities between Appalachian and Newfoundland dance forms. These similarities suggest that communities do not simply preserve whole, entire dances that have been handed down to them, but actively and creatively combine elements of dance traditions into new forms. Phil Jamison shows the ways in which the Green Grass Cloggers, a dance group begun in the 1970s, built upon several regional traditions, added innovations, and invented a new vernacular performance form. This new form then fed back into some of the regional clogging traditions that served as their inspiration. For example, many Appalachian precision clogging team now incorporate into their routines the high kicks that originated with the Green Grass Cloggers.

Furthermore, it soon became dear that not all vernacular dance forms found in the Appalachian region were indigenous to the region. All the dances discussed in this book occur in the Appalachian region, but some are local versions of national or international dance styles. in other cases, we detect the influence of forms such as Appalachian square dance on the dance of other regions. Or we see the influence of . . .

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