Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader

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Julie Malnig
University of Illinois Press, 2009 - History - 377 pages

This dynamic collection documents the rich and varied history of social dance and the multiple styles it has generated, while drawing on some of the most current forms of critical and theoretical inquiry. The essays cover different historical periods and styles; encompass regional influences from North and South America, Britain, Europe, and Africa; and emphasize a variety of methodological approaches, including ethnography, anthropology, gender studies, and critical race theory. While social dance is defined primarily as dance performed by the public in ballrooms, clubs, dance halls, and other meeting spots, contributors also examine social dance’s symbiotic relationship with popular, theatrical stage dance forms.

Contributors are Elizabeth Aldrich, Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Yvonne Daniel, Sherril Dodds, Lisa Doolittle, David F. García, Nadine George-Graves, Jurretta Jordan Heckscher, Constance Valis Hill, Karen W. Hubbard, Tim Lawrence, Julie Malnig, Carol Martin, Juliet McMains, Terry Monaghan, Halifu Osumare, Sally R. Sommer, May Gwin Waggoner, Tim Wall, and Christina Zanfagna.


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With too few works on social and popular dances, this collection demonstrates the potential for this area of study to grow. Moreover, the range of works in this collection is a wonderful first step. While US-centric, it lays the groundwork for a stronger understanding of what social and popular dances are doing and how that impacts how we understand other types of dance. This is a regularly referenced text in my library. 

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About the author (2009)

\Julie Malnig is an associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University and the author of Dancing Till Dawn: A Century of Exhibition Ballroom Dance.

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