Dance

Celebrating 10 Years of “Night’s Dancer” by Yaël Tamar Lewin

September 13, 2021, marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins, by dance scholar Yaël Tamar Lewin, referred to as a “must-read” by Charmaine Warren in her Amsterdam News review. It chronicles the life of an extraordinary and elusive woman, who became a unique concert dance soloist as well as a trailblazer in the white world of classical ballet—the first African-American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera.

The book opens with Collins’s unfinished memoir, which gives a captivating account of her childhood and young adult years, including her rejection by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo—based on Collins’s refusal to whiten her face. Lewin then picks up the thread of Collins’s story, drawing on extensive research and interviews to explore Collins’s development as a dancer, choreographer, and painter, giving us a profoundly moving portrait of an artist of indomitable spirit in an era in which racial bias prevailed. The book contains 65 illustrations, including 49 photographs as well as 16 color plates of Collins and her visual artwork.

Winner of the Marfield Prize, the National Award for Arts Writing, from the Arts Club of Washington, Night’s Dancer reveals that Collins’s brilliant performances transformed how African-American dancers were perceived in the world of ballet, making way for future ballet dancers of color. The 70th anniversary of her historic debut at the Metropolitan Opera will be celebrated on November 13, 2021.

Yaël Tamar Lewin is a dance historian, writer, and dancer living in New York City.

Praise for Night’s Dancer

Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins is an enthralling read. It reinforces Collins’s struggle, personal strength and ultimate success. While following her dreams with endless energy, she leapt over boundaries.”
—Karen Barr, Dance International

“Much of Collins’s career is lost in the gaps of performance history, and Lewin has done wonders to restore to the record the work of this pioneering woman, as well as printing Collins’s forty-odd pages of reminiscences for the first time… Night’s Dancer is a fine contribution both to dance history and the history of segregation in the United States.”
—Judith Flanders, Times Literary Supplement

“With Night’s Dancer, Lewin has produced a major work that continues to correct the absence of historical writing on African Americans in ballet and modern dance. The author incorporates Collins’s own writings, intimate details from the artist’s life, and rich contextual material to create a work that is emotionally touching and incredibly informative.”
—John O. Perpener III, author of African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond

“Blessed with extraordinary gifts for dance and painting, Janet Collins broke barriers as the first African-American prima ballerina at the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera. Her life’s journey is inspirational. History should recognize her as one of its pioneers. Janet Collins was truly one of earth’s angels.”
—Arthur Mitchell, co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem

“Psychologists, sociologists, historians, painters, dancers, choreographers—here is your book! This is a careful, objective, revealing study of a complex and enigmatic person. Collins was richly blessed with creative talents and deeply drawn to a spiritual life. Night’s Dancer explores her struggle to fulfill and be fulfilled. A scholarly, beautiful, important work, and long overdue.”
—Raven Wilkinson, first African-American dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

Announcing “Staging Brazil”

How Capoeira Became A National Folk Form

“As elaborate and beautiful as capoeira itself! Drawing on interviews, manuals, sketches, photographs, and embodied knowledge, and highlighting the authorship of often overlooked actors, Staging Brazil demonstrates that capoeira elides and eludes the binaries purity/mixture, tradition/modernity, authentic/staged, angola/regional, and black/white.”
—Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian combat game practiced today throughout the world. Staging Brazil: Choreographies of Capoeira is the first in-depth study of the process of legitimization of capoeira and its globalization as Brazil’s national folklore. Using early illustrated capoeira manuals, the book contextualizes the two main styles of capoeira, angola and regional, within discourses of race and nation in mid-twentieth century Brazil and reveals the mutual influences between capoeira practitioners, tourism bureaucrats, intellectuals, artists, and directors of folkloric ensembles.

Ana Paula Höfling is an assistant professor of dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She splits her time between North Carolina and Brazil.

“As elaborate and beautiful as capoeira itself! Drawing on interviews, manuals, sketches, photographs, and embodied knowledge, and highlighting the authorship of often overlooked actors, Staging Brazil demonstrates that capoeira elides and eludes the binaries purity/mixture, tradition/modernity, authentic/staged, angola/regional, and black/white.” —Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil

“In this tour-de-force of painstaking archival work and theoretical sophistication, Höfling brings capoeira alive as a crucial area of study for understanding the role of bodies and movement in post-colonial nation-building.” —Jane C. Desmond, author of Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World

“This book is at once a fine biography of capoeira in its kinesthetic specificities and a necessary examination of the narratives that sustain the invention of a modern Brazil . . . it is a valuable addition to a growing body of work that challenges us to see beyond staged and authentic, loss and retention dichotomies.” —Bianca Freire-Medeiros, author of Touring Poverty

Staging Brazil represents an important contribution to dance studies, martial arts studies, and Brazilian history . . . Rejecting false binaries of tradition versus innovation and Brazilian versus African, Höfling emphasizes choreographic authorship not as a sign of decline but as fundamental to capoeira. Meticulously researched and clearly articulated, Staging Brazil nuances understandings of capoeira by treating modernity and choreographic authorship as central to its practice.” —Janet O’Shea, author of Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training

June 4, 2019
280 pp., 40 illus., 6 x 9”
Unjacketed Cloth, $85.00x  978-0-8195-7880-8
Paper, $26.95 978-0-8195-7881-5
eBook, $21.99 Y 978-0-8195-7882-2

Three Wesleyan University Press Authors Receive 2019 Guggenheim Fellowships

Congratulations to three Wesleyan University Press authors who have been awarded the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship. This year, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation chose 168 recipients from 30,000 applicants from the United States and Canada. Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Winners from the Press include:

Ann Cooper Albright

Ann Cooper Albright is Professor and Chair of the Department of Dance at Oberlin College. She is the author of Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001), Traces of Light: Absence and Presence in the Work of Loïe Fuller (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), and Engaging Bodies: The Politics and Poetics of Corporeality (Wesleyan University Press, 2014). She is a recipient of the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship for Dance Studies.

Camille Dungy

Camille Dungy is a professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. She is the author of Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award in 2018. She is a recipient of the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry.

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae is an Assistant Professor of Writing at Columbia University. He is the author of In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018. He is a recipient of the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry.

 

 

 

Announcing Anna Halprin’s “Making Dances that Matter”

Dance innovator shares wisdom and scores 

 

“Anna Halprin is a pioneer of postmodern dance, a warrior for connecting arts to social issues, and a healer of individuals and communities.”
–Wendy Perron, author of Through the Eyes of a Dancer

In Making Dances that Matter, Halprin presents her philosophy and experience as well as step-by-step processes for bringing people together to create dances that foster individual and group well-being. At the heart of this book are accounts of two dances: the Planetary Dance, which continues to be performed throughout the world, and Circle the Earth: Dancing with Life on the Line. Halprin shows how dance can be a powerful tool for healing, learning and mobilizing change.

Anna Halprin, an avante-garde postmodern dancer turned community artist and healer, has created groundbreaking dances with communities all over the world. She also founded the groundbreaking San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop as well as the Tamalpa Institute, and is the author of several books including Moving Toward Life which was published by Wesleyan University Press in 1995.

February 5, 2019
232 pp., 7 x 10″
Paper, $27.95 978-0-8195-7565-4
Unjacketed Cloth, $85.00 978-0-8195-7844-0
Ebook, $22.95 978-0-8195-7566-1

More Than Just A Dance

The excitement surrounding Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done (a MoMA exhibit running through Feb. 3, 2019) brings to mind some phenomenal Wesleyan books—new and old—that feature artists who are in the exhibit.

Trisha Brown, one of the founders of the Judson Theater, was an American choreographer and dancer who helped birth the postmodern dance movement. Brown, amongst other artists, challenged traditional understandings of choreography by employing new compositional methods that stripped dance of its theatrical conventions and instead implemented everyday gestures from domestic and urban spaces. Brown has created over one hundred dances, six operas, one ballet, and a significant body of graphic works.

In Trisha Brown: Choreography as Visual Art, art historian Susan Rosenberg emphasizes how boundary-defying Brown’s work really was through personalized interviews with Brown and colleagues whom she has eternally inspired. By outlining the formation of Brown’s artistic principles and utilizing her archives, Rosenberg eloquently demonstrates why the late choreographer was the first woman choreographer to receive the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “Genius Award”.

 

Anna Halprin is a legendary pioneer for postmodern dance as well. She taught and led workshops and classes at the Judson Dance Theater. In fact, Trisha Brown was one of her students. In her forthcoming book Making Dances that Matter: Resources for Community Creativity, Halprin demonstrates how dance can be a powerful tool for healing, learning, and mobilizing change.

She gives insight into her personal philosophy and past experiences as well as step-by-step processes to create unifying dances such as the “The Planetary Dance” and “Circle the Earth.” These two dances continue to be performed around the world.

 

Deborah Hay is a dancer, choreographer, writer, and teacher working in the field of postmodern dance and one of the founding members of the Judson Dance Theater. Her work focuses on large-scale dance projects involving untrained dancers, fragmented and choreographed music accompaniment, and the execution of ordinary movement patterns performed under stressful conditions. She is the artistic director of the Deborah Hay Dance Company, based in Austin, Texas.

My Body, The Buddhist is a guide into Hay’s choreographic techniques, a gloss on her philosophy of the body (which shares much with Buddhism), and an extraordinary artist’s primer. The book is composed of nineteen short chapters each an example of what Susan Foster calls Hay’s “daily attentiveness to the body’s articulateness.”

We are pleased to announce that Wesleyan is re-issuing Using the Sky, A Dance, by Deborah Hay, in fall 2019.

 

Sally Banes

Sally Banes is a remarkable dance critic, historian, and writer. Drawing on the postmodern perspective and concerns that informed her groundbreaking Terpsichore in Sneakers, Sally Bane’s Writing Dancing documents the background and development of avant-garde and popular dance, analyzing individual artists, performances, and entire dance movements.

 

John Cage

John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer and music theorist. He became notorious for indeterminacy in music and non-standard use of musical instruments as well as for being one of the leading figures during the post-war avant-garde.

Silence, by John Cage

Selected Letters of John Cage, edited by Laura Kuhn

John Cage Was, photographs of James Klosty
with comments by a variety of artists and performers.

Wesleyan has published a variety of books by Cage.

 

 

The Sentient Archive: Bodies, Performance, and Memory

The Sentient Archive summons a feast of diverse voices, giving each the space to speak without forcing them into a single chorus. Instead, the book works like a landscape where these voices and their shimmering echoes intersect, inviting us in to join the unfinished, disappearing dance of movement and memory, of the sentient body and its archival impulse, its fragile yet insistent resistance to the slippage of time. Collectively, these voices testify to the whispers and the wild feelings in our bones that can hardly be put into words, but bear our social flesh forward.” —Elizabeth A. Behnke, Study Project in Phenomenology of the Body

The Sentient Archive gathers 28 smart essays by scholars and practitioners in dance, performance, science, and the visual arts. These challenging essays cross boundaries within and between disciplines while exploring the ways the human body serves as a repository for knowledge.

Contributors include Tomie Hahn, Nancy Goldner, Marcia B. Siegel, Jenn Joy, Alain Platel, Catherine J. Stevens, Meg Stuart, André Lepecki, Ralph Lemon, and other notable performers, scholars, and artists.

Bill Bissell is the director of performance at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Linda Caruso Haviland is an associate professor at Bryn Mawr College and the founder and director of its dance program.

Development of the content of The Sentient Archive was supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative arts and heritage projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural leaders. For more information, visit www.pcah.us.

 

Stepping into South Indian Dance at Wesleyan University Press

Entering the Cross Street Dance Studio at Wesleyan University, May 7, 2018 for the Bharata Natyam III performance, there are folded chairs along the studio’s back wall and red cushions evenly spaced on the floor. Filling in with Bharata Natyam I students, Wesleyan faculty, friends, and family, the audience reaches the edge of the stage’s bounds. In rhythmic step, the three students of Hari Krishnan’s Bharata Natyam III class enter the studio and introduce the program of five dances: Alarippu, Jatisvaram, Svarajati, Padam, and Tillana. The lights shift to a soft blue hue like the night sky and the performance commences.

Portraying the erotic desires of a lover praying to Lord Krishna, the five dances choreographed by Professor Hair Krishnan, culminate in a series of unified movements followed by interpretive solos by each dancer, capturing the emotions, Shringara, Bhayanaka, and Shanta.

Bharata nātyam is a form of classical South Indian dance, which has been a part of the international stage since the mid-nineteenth century, yet has seen an accelerated circulation since the late twentieth century. Recognizing the importance of this art form, Wesleyan University Press has published multiple titles addressing the dance form, its artists, and visual-vocal practices.

 

In At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage by Janet O’Shea, the globalization of the classical form and its adaptations alongside social movements and questioning of tradition is brought to the forefront. Written as an introduction of the form’s history for new learners, At Home in the World, pushes against the rigidity of tradition and invites transformation of form.

 

Widely considered one of the greatest performance artists of the twentieth century and the greatest living dancer of traditional bharata nātyam of her time, T. Balasaraswati was an unforgettable dancer, musician, and teacher whose influence on the western stage is still prevalent today. Since her and her family’s artist residencies at Wesleyan University during the 1960s and 1980s, bharata nātyam remains a staple of the dance department, inspiring the innovative choreography of today’s dancers. The first of its kind, the deeply engaging biography, Balasaraswati: Her Art & Her Life by Douglas M. Knight Jr., writes of T. Balasaraswati (his mother-in-law) and her family’s artistry as a force which brought the tradition of southern India to the western stage.

 

Written from the musician’s perspective, Solkattu Manual: An Introduction to the Rhythmic Language of South Indian Music by Professor David P. Nelson of Wesleyan University, is a nod to the complexity of bharata nātyam as not only a dance form, but a visual and audio-engaging art form. Paired with 150 video lessons, Solkattu Manual is the first immersive hands-on introduction to South Indian music and rhythm of its kind. A more advanced study guide, Konnakkol, will be available from Wesleyan in 2019.

Wesleyan University Press @ AWP2017 – Washington D.C.

Join us @ AWP2017, in Washington DC!

Booth #137

awp2017wip

Come to our panel!

Working with Archives—Ethics, Strategies, and Methods

Saturday, February 11, 2017 – 1:30pm-2:45pm
Marquis Salon 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two

Gerald Vizenor
Jena Osman
Harmony Holiday
Daniel Tiffany

Writers sometimes use archival records as sources of inspiration and information. Our panelists, including poets, a fiction writer and a historian, look at the use of public records as a source to gain better emotional understanding of their subject, and as evidence of sometimes grim historical events that have been overlooked or intentionally ignored. The panelist will discuss the methodologies and strategies of working with archival material, as well as the important ethical considerations of working with these often sensitive materials.

Meet the Authors
and have your books signed

Rae Armantrout, Friday 11-12

Peter Gizzi, Friday 1-2

Shane McCrae, Friday 2-3

Camille Dungy, Friday 4-5PM

Stop by booth 137 to see our new titles!

awp2017 new new books

 Trophic Cascade (Camille T. Dungy)

Because When God Is Too Busy (Gina Athena Ulysse)

In The Language of my Captor (Shane McCrae)

Planetary Noise: Selected Poetry of Erín Moure (Erín Moure)

awp2017 new books wip

Archeophonics (Peter Gizzi)

BAX 2016: Best American Experimental Writing (Seth Abramson)

The Work-Shy (Blunt Research Group)

Partly: New and Selection Poems, 2001-2015 (Rae Armantrout)

Ralph Lemon coming to Wesleyan University 2/25/16

As part of the World of Arts in the Heart of Connecticut series hosted by the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, Ralph Lemon will appear at Wesleyan’s Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on February 25, 2016. His presentation, Ceremonies Out of the Air, touches upon both his new and old work in relation to an imagined South.

As a choreographer, writer, director, and conceptualist, Ralph Lemon is a dynamic voice, canonizing what is African American literature and history through his in-depth research and presentation of traditionally African American culture through dance, art, and memoir. In his latest book, Come home Charley Patton, Lemon examines and imagines the South through memoir, documenting the Civil Rights era and contemporary southern culture through his journal entries. Sketches and photographs are included, capturing the haunting sites of lynchings, Civil Rights protests, and meetings between Lemon and the descendants of musicians and activists. A few images from the book, documenting Lemon’s travels, are included below:

one of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver's home

One of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver’s home. Mose Toliver was a folk artist whose art can be found in the Rosa Parks Museum.

a framed image of Elvi Presley in Mrs. Kent's house in Memphis, TN

A framed image of Elvis Presley in Mrs. Helen Kent’s house in Memphis, TN.

Helen Kent in her living room

Helen Kent, the daughter of Frank Stokes, an African American blues musician, in her living room.

in memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors

In memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors.

NourbeSe Philip & Gina Ulysse team up!

 blogpost

Atlantic Reasonings Between Caribbean Sisters
Performances by M. NourbeSe Philip and Gina Athena Ulysse
October 15th, 7:30PM in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

Two Wesleyan Press authors, M. NourbeSe Phlip and Gina Athena Ulysse are teaming up for an evening of powerhouse performances sponsored in large part by Wesleyan’s own Center for the Americas, with a additional support from our English Department’s Concentration in Creative Writing. Other funders include the Andrew W. Melon Fund for Lectures in Ethics; Center for the Arts; Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies; the English Department’s Concentration in Creative Writing; Office of Equity & Inclusion; and Romance Languages & Literatures.

Please, also join us on October 14th, 4:15 PM, in Russell House, for a conversation between M. NourbeSe Philip and Indira Karamcheti–who will discuss Caribbean diasporas, the arts, race and self-care, followed by an open Q&A with audience members.

About the artists:

Gina Athena Ulysse is a performance artist, anthropologist, and author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives, Downtown Ladies, and Haiti, me & THE WORLD.

M. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, lawyer, and author of She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks and Zong!. Her essay collections include A Genealogy of Resistance and Showing Grit.

Respond to the Facebook invite here.