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America dancing : from the cakewalk to the moonwalk

America dancing : from the cakewalk to the moonwalk / Megan Pugh.
9780300201314 (hardcover)
New Haven [Connecticut] : Yale University Press, [2015]
Physical Description
xii, 398 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Includes index.
Includes filmography (pages 315-319).
"The history of American dance reflects the nation's tangled culture. Dancers from wildly different backgrounds watched, imitated, and stole from one another. Audiences everywhere embraced the result as deeply American. Chronicling dance from the minstrel stage to the music video, Megan Pugh shows how freedom--that nebulous, contested American ideal--emerged as a genre-defining aesthetic. Ballerinas mingled with slumming thrill-seekers, and hoedowns showed up on elite opera-house stages. Steps invented by slaves captivated the British royalty and the Parisian avant-garde. Dances were better boundary crossers than their dancers, however, and the racism and class conflicts that haunt everyday life shadow American dance as well. Center stage in America Dancing is a cast of performers who slide, glide, stomp, and swing their way through history. At the nadir of U.S. race relations, cakewalkers embraced the rhythms of black America. On the heels of the Harlem Renaissance, Bill Robinson tap-danced to stardom. At the height of the Great Depression, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers unified highbrow and popular art. In the midst of 1940s patriotism, Agnes de Mille brought jazz and square dance to ballet, then took it all to Broadway. In the decades to come, the choreographer Paul Taylor turned pedestrian movements into modern masterpiecds, and Michael Jackson moonwalked his way to otherworldly stardom. These artists both celebrated and criticized the country, all while inspiring others to get moving. For it is partly by pretending to be other people, Pugh argues, that Americans discover themselves ... America Dancing demonstrates the centrality of dance in American art, life, and identity, taking us to watershed moments when the nation worked out a sense of itself through public movement"--Publisher's description.
Variant and related titles
From the cakewalk to the moonwalk
Added to Catalog
January 11, 2016
Includes bibliographical references (pages 315-376).
Introduction : an American style
The cakewalk, America's first national dance
Bill Robinson's dream
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pick themselves up
Agnes de Mille's square dance
Paul Taylor's bugle boy
Michael Jackson's moonwalk.

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