Announcing “The Grand Union”

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The Grand Union was a leaderless improvisation group in SoHo in the 1970s that included people who became some of the biggest names in postmodern dance: Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, Barbara Dilley, David Gordon, and Douglas Dunn. Together they unleashed a range of improvised forms from peaceful movement explorations to wildly imaginative collective fantasies. This book delves into the “collective genius” of Grand Union and explores their process of deep play—before they became known as pillars of postmodern dance. Drawing on hours of archival videotapes and dozens of interviews, Wendy Perron seeks to understand the ebb and flow of the performances in both physical and emotional terms. What were the elements of their uncanny synergy? To what extent did their performing selves reveal their real, everyday selves? During the period when artists of different disciplines were redefining art, the Grand Union contributed to this experimentation by questioning the conventions of concert dance. The book includes 65 photographs.

“I didn’t know how much I needed this book in my library until now. It is so alive, a beautifully researched book, giddily holding and challenging the myth. A band of dance anarchists that left no choreographic traces but changed almost everything that has been danced in contemporary dance since. One of these artists and one of my teachers, Barbara Dilley, calls Grand Union her ‘art mother.’ I call the writing and dance giants documented (and imagined) an art book triumph.” —Ralph Lemon, choreographer

“An articulate writer, Perron witnessed much of Grand Union’s history, and has spent fifty years thinking deeply about the issues it raises. Her book is a great gift to the dance field, and to cultural studies in general.”
—Elizabeth Zimmer, Guest Artist, Hollins University MFA Program in Dance

Wendy Perron is a former dancer/choreographer and current writer and teacher. A former editor-in-chief of Dance magazine, she is the author of Through the Eyes of a Dancer: Selected Writings.

Wesleyan University Press’ Antiracist Reading Lists!

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To celebrate the continuous struggle for freedom and equality in America, Wesleyan University Press has compiled a few antiracist reading lists in order to amplify BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices, experiences, and histories. Below are just a few of the fantastic titles Wesleyan University Press has published by BIPOC authors or about the Black historical legacy. Poetry, music and dance, autobiography, science fiction, historical novels, and more show the breadth of these lyrical, literary, and scholarly contributions. We are dedicated to supporting Black authors and stories, to listening and learning through publishing and reading. This moment is highlighting just how much work there is to be done in order to dismantle systemic racism in our country; these books help show us why that work is so important and how we can begin to integrate it into our daily lives and reading practices. Black lives matter!

To order books and view our full list of titles, please visit or click on the below cover images to visit a book page directly. And don’t forget to look out for Beyoncé in the World: Making Meaning with Queen Bey in Troubled Times edited by Christina Baade and Kristin McGee– forthcoming in Spring 2021!

The following list includes poetry, science fiction, historical novels, and non-fiction.

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A Hubert Harrison Reader

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Five Black Lives

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African American Connecticut Explored

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100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof


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The Little Edges by Fred Moten

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The Book of Landings by Mark McMorris

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Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip

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Un-American by Hafizah Geter

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The Lazarus Poems by Kamau Brathwaite

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Magic City by Yusef Komunyakaa

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The Peacock Poems by Sherley Anne Williams

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semiautomatic by Evie Shockley

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In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae

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To See the Earth Before the End of the World by Ed Roberson

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Butting Out: Reading Resistive Choreographies Through Works by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Chandralekha by Ananya Chatterjea

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Trophic Cascade by Camille T. Dungy

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The Age of Phillis by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

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Fela: Kalakuta Notes by John Collins

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The Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas

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Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae by Michael E. Veal

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Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle by Gina Athena Ulysse

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Come home Charley Patton by Ralph Lemon

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Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America by Tricia Rose

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The Logbooks: Connecticut’s Slave Ships and Human Memory by Anne Farrow

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The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany

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How to Dress a Fish by Abigail Chabitnoy

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Blue Ravens by Gerald Vizenor

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In Mad Love and War by Joy Harjo

Human Signs Ensemble includes Wesleyan author and professor Hari Krishnan

HUMAN SIGNS is a series of audiovisual ensembles created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its creator, Yuval Avital, describes its premise:

“HUMAN SIGNS unites great protagonists of the contemporary dance and Ballet scene, vocal soloists from all around the globe, including carriers of ancient traditions, contemporary and experimental pioneers, religious representatives from every faith. All united in a participatory art project that from Milan connects the entire world to share – at the times of COVID-19 – the HUMAN SIGNS, presented online through a series of weekly audiovisual creations (every Tuesday at this link)–each one introduced by a different curator–interpreting the viral aesthetic as a multimedia choir of vulnerability, spirituality, inner strength, hopes and fears.”

HUMAN SIGNS’ 7th edition ensemble includes Wesleyan author and professor Hari Krishnan. His dialogue/vignette is from 40:26- 52:20.

Read Dr. Krishnan’s statement on his work, “Life on Pause–A Meditation”.

“Being part of this artistic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, was a truly evocative, moving, revealing journey for me. I had to sit, still, in my dark bedroom, retreat within myself, and distill the restless, helpless despair my physical self and soul embodied in this fractured, tumultuous time. After two weeks of introspection, in the friendly company of the Cantus Firmus mantra and the sunrise as a healing balm, I let my mind, body and heart express my inner world through this ‘dance’. Drawing from my rich Indian dance ethos, I carefully abstracted from the structure of mezzuvani–a seated salon solo dance style where the dancer performs with mudras (hand gestures) and abhinaya (facial expressions).

“As I choreographed, using Covid-19 as the premise, current political events collided with my (already) altered realties, i.e. the police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement protests in the U.S. In homage, I empathized with my marginalized friends, by referencing BLM’s symbol of resistance–the raised clenched fist–in the beginning of my solo to join in solidarity with them.

“Reflecting the context of isolation and depletion in my current life, I radically edited all the staples I take for granted as an Indian dancer–the complex footwork, layered multiple mudras, theatrical abhinaya, elaborate costumes, jewelry, make-up, etc. Hence my minimalist iteration. As a metaphor for the quarantine, I “locked-down” my dancing legs by immobilizing them in the Padmasana (yogic lotus seated) position. While my left hand ‘stops’ loneliness, angst, dissonance, sorrow, hurt and fear at the outer prakaram (perimeter), my right hand’s index finger, quantifying a singular prayer, invites the healing sun into my darkened soul to bathe it in light and cleanse it with warmth. My centered, gently undulating torso, and circling hands welcome the spirit of a Higher Power to take residence in and transform the ‘chaotic beauty’ within my soul garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) into Ananda (Bliss)….”

Hari Krishnan Krishnan is an internationally respected and award-winning choreographer, professional Bharatanātyam dancer, educator, and writer. His research interests span a range of topics, including queer subjectivities in South Asian and global dance performance, colonialism, post-colonialism and Indian dance, and the history of devadasi (courtesan) dance traditions in South India. Krishnan is also the artistic director of Toronto-based dance company inDANCE. As an award winning dance maker, he is commissioned internationally for his bold and transgressive choreography. Also an associate professor of dance at Wesleyan University, he is the author of Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam (Wesleyan University Press) and is currently co-editing a forthcoming volume entitled Dance and the Early South Indian Cinema (Oxford University Press).

Announcing “BodyStories,” “Body and Earth,” and “The Place of Dance”

“Olsen finds her fresh edge with a holistic vision with which to dance, make dances and move through life.”
—Desirée Dunbar, Dance International Magazine

Wesleyan University Press is excited about keeping her trilogy of practical work books in print, for dancers, choreographers, and other movement artists. Or for anybody who wishes to explore movement in a creative way.

For an introduction to Andrea Olsen’s work, visit her Body and Earth website, where you will find seven movement explorations  developed with her colleague Caryn McHose.

Originally published by the University Press of New England in 1998, BodyStories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy is a book that engages our interest in human anatomy. Thirty-one days of learning sessions heighten awareness about each bone and body system and provide self-guided studies. The book draws on Ms. Olsen’s thirty years as a dancer and teacher of anatomy to show how our attitudes and approaches to our body affect us day to day. Amusing and insightful personal stories enliven the text and provide ways of working with the body for efficiency and for healing. BodyStories is used as a primary text in college dance departments, massage schools, and yoga training programs internationally. Now, you can use the book to guide you in your home studies.

Olsen’s second book, Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide was also published by the University Press of New England, in 2002. The book is not only a lesson plan, it is also an investigation. Arranged as a 31-day program, the book offer a wealth of scientific information and exercises for exploring the body and connecting with place. Illustrations and other art illuminate each chapter’s themes, and Olsen’s meditations and reflections connect the topics to her personal history and experience. Olsen insists that neither body nor landscape are separate from our fundamental selves, but in a culture which views the body as a mechanism to be trained and the landscape as a resource to be exploited, we need to learn again to see their fundamental wholeness and interconnection. Through hard data, reflection, exercises, and inspiration, Body and Earth offers a guide to responsible stewardship of both our bodies and the planet.

The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making, first published by Wesleyan University Press in 2014, reminds us that dancing is in our nature, available to all as well as refined for the stage. This workbook integrates experiential anatomy with the process of moving and dancing, with a particular focus on the creative journey involved in choreographing, improvising, and performing for others. Each of the chapters, or “days,” introduces a particular theme and features a dance photograph, information on the topic, movement and writing investigations, personal anecdotes, and studio notes from professional artists and educators for further insight. It is well suited for dancers, or anyone interested in engaging embodied intelligence and living more consciously.

These three books are excellent teaching tools and will help each reader to understand his/her dancing body through somatic work, create a dance, and to create a full journal clarifying aesthetic views on his or her practice. Wesleyan University Press is now keeping all three of Olsen’s volumes in print.

ANDREA OLSEN is professor of dance and faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program at Middlebury College. She is a certified Holden QiGong and Embodyoga instructor, teaching classes and workshops worldwide. She also performs frequently, with current accolades in her piece “Awakening Grace: Six Somatic Tools.” In addition to writing, teaching, and performing, she is also working on a continuing film project with Scotty Hardwig and Caryn McHose entitled Body and Earth: Seven Web-Based Somatic Excursions. 

Caryn McHose is Olsen’s frequent writing collaborator. She has a private practice in somatic movement therapy in Holderness, New Hampshire, and has taught creative movement internationally for more than forty years. She is coauthor, with Kevin Frank, of How Life Moves: Explorations in Meaning and Body Awareness.


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