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Dance and politics

Moving beyond boundaries

Dana Mills

Dance has always been a method of self- expression for human beings. This book examines the political power of dance and especially its transgressive potential. Focusing on readings of dance pioneers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, Gumboots dancers in the gold mines of South Africa, the One Billion Rising movement using dance to protest against gendered violence, dabkeh in Palestine and dance as protest against human rights abuse in Israel, the Sun Dance within the Native American Crow tribe, the book focuses on the political power of dance and moments in which dance transgresses politics articulated in words. Thus the book seeks ways in which reading political dance as interruption unsettles conceptions of politics and dance.

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Dana Mills

99 6 Dancing human rights We have seen that ever since Isadora Duncan entered the stage of political dance, various instances of sic-​sensuous have been performed on the stage of the argument by bodies contracting into themselves and releasing to other bodies, moving and being moved. Those bodies affirm their equality to other bodies –​whether the dancing bodies they intervene against, or bodies inhabiting other worlds that deem them unequal. From Martha Graham’s audiences who are uninvited spectators to the gumboot dancers in South Africa and the flash mob

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Dancing the ruptured body

One Billion Rising, dance and gendered violence

Dana Mills

83 5 Dancing the ruptured body: One Billion Rising, dance and gendered violence I move the reader–​spectator to view the performance of a protest movement that calls on us to end violence against women through the power of dance. One Billion Rising, initiated by feminist author and activist Eve Ensler, calls for a global uprising on Valentine’s Day, utilising dance to protest against gendered violence. The impact of the movement has been far-​reaching and its scope ambitious. The site of the movement is the moving body upon which gendered violence is inscribed

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‘I dreamed of a different dance’

Isadora Duncan’s danced revolution

Dana Mills

28 2 ‘I dreamed of a different dance’: Isadora Duncan’s danced revolution Modern dance innovator Isadora Duncan (1877–​ 1927) truly moved beyond boundaries, both choreographically and politically. Born in San Francisco, then dancing with Augustine Daly Dance Theatre in 1896, she moved from London to Paris to Berlin in quick succession, performing in salons and achieving success before the age of twenty. In 1905 she established her first school in Germany, aimed at children of all classes, and in 1914 she went to the US and transferred her school there. Duncan

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Moving beyond boundariies

Writing on the body

Dana Mills

11 1 Moving beyond boundaries: writing on the body The book is written by many bodies who danced and inscribed their worlds upon the intersections between dance and politics. The argument is a three-​dimensional space bounded by three axes; in this chapter I elaborate, explore and problematise the three axes which demarcate the space of the argument. The ontology upon which the argument acts is twofold. On the one hand the argument is grounded in the dancing bodies of those subjects whose political intervention has written upon the argument. On the other hand

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Conclusions

The dancer of the future dancing radical hope

Dana Mills

116 Conclusions: the dancer of the future dancing radical hope Dance plays a crucial role in Jonathan Lear’s seminal work on the Native American tribe, the Crow peoples, and their gains and losses in their attempt to sustain communal life under white conquest. Lear pays much attention to the sun dance, a prayer for revenge which lapsed around 1875 and was relearned around 1941, from the Crow’s enemies, the Shoshone tribe (Lear 2008). The sun dance was central to the Crow form of life, and intimately related to various other elements of their culture

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Dana Mills

66 4 ‘I want to tell them how I feel and how black people feel’: gumboot dance in South Africa Isadora Duncan’s rebelling body, dancing the chorus, was released into Martha Graham’s contracting chorus. But Duncan and Graham were not the first to mobilise choruses and their transgressive potential. I invite the reader–​spectator to watch gumboot dance in South Africa, which, as we will see, utilised many elements performed by Graham and Duncan in a radically different context. The body is able to intervene universally; and it does so beyond theatrical

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Dana Mills

1 Introduction Our political world is in constant motion. Our lives are continually shifting. Collective communicative structures which have held us together in various forms of communal life are relentlessly being challenged by new languages. Practices that have bound human beings together for thousands of years are transformed, gain new meaning and receive renewed significance. This book is a study of one such practice, dance. The book intervenes in critical conjunctures in political theory, bringing together new reflections on the moving body, spaces of

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‘The body says what words cannot’

Martha Graham, dance and politics

Dana Mills

48 3 ‘The body says what words cannot’: Martha Graham, dance and politics Before Isadora Duncan’s untimely exit from the world stage in 1927, she and Martha Graham (11 May 1894–​1 April 1991)  shared the limelight for a while. After training in 1910 in the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts, mentored by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, in 1926 Graham founded the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, creating a hub for ongoing embodied conversations and revolutions in American dance. Those revolutions continue, they spill into multiple dancing

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‘The master’s dance to the master’s voice’

Revolutionary nationalism and women’s representation in Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Elleke Boehmer

BOEHMER Makeup 3/22/05 2:55 PM Page 42 John's G5:Users:john:Public:John's Mac: John's Jobs 2 ‘The master’s dance to the master’s voice’: revolutionary nationalism and women’s representation in Ngugi wa Thiong’o A writer needs people around him. . . . For me, in writing a novel, I love to hear the voices of the people . . . I need the vibrant voices of beautiful women: their touch, their sighs, their tears, their laughter. (Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Detained)1 With these affirmative words, the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o points to the strong position that women