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The People Have Never Stopped Dancing

The People Have Never Stopped Dancing: Native American Modern Dance Histories

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    The People Have Never Stopped Dancing
    Book Description:

    In this first major study of contemporary Native American dance, Jacqueline Shea Murphy shows how these concert performances are at once diverse and connected by common influences. Illustrating how Native dance enacts cultural connections to land, ancestors, and animals, as well as spiritual and political concerns, Shea Murphy challenges stereotypes and offers new ways of recognizing the agency of bodies on stage.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5380-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: Dance as Document
    (pp. 1-26)

    This book was set in motion more than a decade ago when Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie Marmon Silkoʹs sprawling, intense, magnum opusAlmanac of the Deadgot under my skin.¹ I was reading and teaching and attempting to write about it, and I saw its pronouncements, predictions, and effects everywhere around me.² In one passage that I kept turning over in my head, the trickster lawyer Wilson Weasel Tail, addressing an audience of New Age Indian wannabe holistic healers, argues for the continuing effect that the 1890 Ghost Dance religion has had in the reclaiming of the Americas. Weasel Tailʹs...

  4. Part I. Restrictions, Regulations, Resiliences

    • ONE Have They a Right? Nineteenth-Century Indian Dance Practices and Federal Policy
      (pp. 29-52)

      Native peoples in North America have long engaged with danceʹs capacities to articulate in profound philosophical, spiritual, and political ways. Negotiations are intrinsic to dance, with its required attention to shifts in weight, rhythm, relation to other bodies, and available space, and to the shifting circumstances experienced, theorized, and recorded in embodied form. In thousands of different forms, locations, and ways, Indigenous dancing has tapped these capacities: Native peoples used, and continue to use, dance as a powerful tool in continuously shifting negotiations of agency, self-determination, and resilience.

      This chapter explores this resilience in the face of late nineteenth-century Indian...

    • TWO Theatricalizing Dancing and Policing Authenticity
      (pp. 53-80)

      In the mid-nineteenth century, French music and drama teacher François Delsarte developed ideas about the body as expressive instrument that would come to profoundly influence the development of modern dance in America.¹ Delsarteʹs system of dramatic expression purported a mystical science of applied aesthetics, or what modern dancer and choreographer Ted Shawn would call the ʺlaws of expression.ʺ² This system found universal human correspondences between inner emotion on the one hand, and movements, gestures, facial expressions, and vocal behavior on the other. At the core of this system was a faith in the truth of an ʺinterior aspectʺ or ʺinner...

    • THREE Antidance Rhetoric and American Indian Arts in the 1920s
      (pp. 81-108)

      In the 1920s, artists and tourists flocked to a newly invented American Southwest, entranced by Indian arts and culture made increasingly accessible after the opening of the Santa Fe railway in 1863. The railway and later the automobile transported numerous artists and intellectuals to the region, and they formed the Taos and Santa Fe art colonies in the early decades of the 1900s. These colonies flourished until the early 1940s, and the focus of much of their artistic interest was American Indian culture—the buying, selling, and displaying of Indian-made pottery, jewelry, and other objects, as well as the display...

  5. Part II. Twentieth-Century Modern Dance

    • FOUR Authentic Themes: Modern Dancers and American Indians in the 1920s and 1930s
      (pp. 111-147)

      Early modern dance choreographers were outraged by the federal circulars seeking to curtail Native American dance. Ted Shawn, after reading Commissioner of Indian Affairs Charles Burkeʹs 1923 ʺTO ALL INDIANSʺ letter, wrote:

      There has been no governmental recognition of the art of dance as being worth preserving or recording. On the contrary, the bureaucratic mind being what it is, the dancing of the Indians is looked upon as degrading, morally and industrially, and veiled threats in the form of letters from the Indian Commissioner, one of which I have read, indicate an official intention to blot out such remnants as...

    • FIVE Her Point of View: Martha Graham and Absent Indians
      (pp. 148-168)

      In her autobiography,Blood Memory, Martha Graham notes that she originally imagined her 1944Appalachian Springwould include an ʺepisode with an Indian girl.ʺ She writes that she first envisioned the piece to include ʺthe thoughts of a pioneer woman when she sees an Indian girl on whose parentsʹ land the frontiersmen have settledʺ (226). Graham adds, ʺShe was to represent a dream, a figure always at the fence of our dream. It was the legend of Pocahontas, the legend of American land, youth, and countryʺ (226).

      The first and second versions of the script she sent to Aaron Copland...

    • SIX Held in Reserve: José Limón, Tom Two Arrows, and American Indian Dance in the 1950s
      (pp. 169-194)

      In 1954, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower inaugurated an international cultural exchange program, hoping to display the artistic fruits of freedom and democracy abroad and to thereby help fight the cold war by countering Communist attacks on American culture as greedy and materialistic. The first company exported as cultural emissaries for this purpose was that of José Limón. In November and December 1954, Limón and members of his company went to South America, where they performedLa Malinche, The Moor’s Pavane, and ten other pieces. Limónʹs Mexican heritage and Spanish language abilities were seen as assets in his ability to...

  6. Part III. Indigenous Choreographers Today

    • SEVEN The Emergence of a Visible Native American Stage Dance
      (pp. 197-216)

      Over the past thirty years, Native dance, choreographed and directed by Native peoples, has emerged more visibly on concert dance stages. These dances include performances by powwow-based Native American stage dance troupes like Louis Mofsieʹs Thunderbird American Indian Dancers and the American Indian Dance Theatre, founded in 1987 and today directed by Hanay Geiogamah, as well as modern dance–based companies like Rosalie Jonesʹs Daystar: Contemporary Dance-Drama of Indian America, formed in 1978, and that produced by choreographers working at the Aboriginal Dance Program, established at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada, in 1996.

      This chapter discusses...

    • EIGHT Aboriginal Land Claims and Aboriginal Dance at the End of the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 217-239)

      From 1987 to 1991, the Gitxsan and Wetʹsuwetʹen people presented their claim to over 22,400 square miles of land in British Columbia to the British Columbia Supreme Court. Arguing that they are descendents of people who have lived in the territory since time immemorial, and that their claim to the land has never been extinguished through treaty or warfare, the Gitxsan and Wetʹsuwetʹen argued for legal recognition of their ownership and jurisdiction over the land and its resources. In support of their claim, Gitxsan and Wetʹsuwetʹen chiefs and elders described and presented to the court not only totem poles, house...

    • NINE Weʹre Dancing: Indigenous Stage Dance in the Twenty-first Century
      (pp. 240-264)

      In the first decade of the twenty-first century, stage dance productions by choreographers who identity as Indigenous, and who engage with Aboriginal stories, languages, processes, and understandings of the world in their dance making, have started to gain increasing prominence and recognition. Choreographers are forming companies that are funded, and drawing audiences, and awarded for the work they do (especially in Canada); magazines are featuring articles and cover stories on ʺcontemporary Native danceʺ;¹ academic institutions and conferences are supporting programs and discussions that foster its growing presence.² The dancing is raising awareness not just of the need to include discussion...

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 265-268)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 269-308)
  9. Index
    (pp. 309-320)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)