Dance and Politics
Moving Beyond Boundaries
Manchester University Press 2017
New Books in ArtNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in DanceNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network July 10, 2017 Lilly Goren
Dance & Politics: Moving Beyond Boundaries (Manchester University Press, 2017) by Dana Mills, considers dance as a political expression from a number of perspectives, situating the analysis within a framework of contemporary political theory. Mills notes that dance has always been with us, as humans, but that we do not usually think about it as part of our political discourse in the same way that other performative or artistic expressions are integrated into political discussions and political life. Mills’ book argues that dance, as a language or means of communication, should be considered from the dancers’ perspective but also from the audience or the receivers’ experience and understanding, as well as the choreographers’ point of view, and the interactions of the other dancers involved. Mills digs into the overarching question of how can we expand our notion of what is political so that dance is included, trying to also understand why it has often been excluded from the notion of the political. The book elaborates on how and why dance is political, how dance can give voice to subversive discourse, how it can articulate feminist perspectives, and how it can provide opportunity and outlet for those marginalized within society and politics.
The scope of the book is global–integrating not only the groundbreaking work of Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham as the building blocks for thinking about dance and politics–but exploring the Gumboots dance and development in South Africa; the One Billion Rising concept and diffusion to western countries, and non-western appropriation of the movement; and the integration of dance into human rights advocacy in Israel and in Palestine. The book concludes with another example of the role of dance within yet another community, the Native American communities in North America. Throughout the book, Mills teases apart the issues of the body as a political entity, while also exploring the conceptual notion of political space where dance is performed, and how the body is part of an understanding of political space. These questions are vital to consider in context of contemporary political theory and what we understand to be political discourse.