Dancing Many Drums: Excavations In African American Dance

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Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2002 M04 1 - 384 pages

Few will dispute the profound influence that African American music and movement has had in American and world culture. Dancing Many Drums explores that influence through a groundbreaking collection of essays on African American dance history, theory, and practice. In so doing, it reevaluates "black" and "African American " as both racial and dance categories. Abundantly illustrated, the volume includes images of a wide variety of dance forms and performers, from ring shouts, vaudeville, and social dances to professional dance companies and Hollywood movie dancing.

Bringing together issues of race, gender, politics, history, and dance, Dancing Many Drums ranges widely, including discussions of dance instruction songs, the blues aesthetic, and Katherine Dunham’s controversial ballet about lynching, Southland. In addition, there are two photo essays: the first on African dance in New York by noted dance photographer Mansa Mussa, and another on the 1934 "African opera," Kykunkor, or the Witch Woman.


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A Complex History
Part 1 Theory
Part 2 Practice
Part 3 History

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About the author (2002)

Thomas F. DeFrantz is associate professor of music and theater arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture (Oxford U Press, 2004). In addition to scholarly articles, he has written on dance for the Village Voice and Philadelphia Inquirer. He is a dancer and choreographer and for many years directed the dance history program at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City.

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