Night's Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins

Wesleyan University Press
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Winner of the The Marfield Prize / National Award for Arts Writing (2011)

Dancer Janet Collins, born in New Orleans in 1917 and raised in Los Angeles, soared high over the color line as the first African-American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera. Night’s Dancer chronicles the life of this extraordinary and elusive woman, who became a unique concert dance soloist as well as a black trailblazer in the white world of classical ballet. During her career, Collins endured an era in which racial bias prevailed, and subsequently prevented her from appearing in the South. Nonetheless, her brilliant performances transformed the way black dancers were viewed in ballet. The book begins with an unfinished memoir written by Collins in which she gives a captivating account of her childhood and young adult years, including her rejection by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Dance scholar Yaël Tamar Lewin then picks up the thread of Collins’s story. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with Collins and her family, friends, and colleagues to explore Collins’s development as a dancer, choreographer, and painter, Lewin gives us a profoundly moving portrait of an artist of indomitable spirit.

Ebook Edition Note: The John Martin review on pages 122-123 has been redacted.
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About the author

YAËL TAMAR LEWIN is a dance historian, writer, and dancer living in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Wesleyan University Press
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Published on
Sep 13, 2011
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780819571151
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Performing Arts / Dance / General
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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This new collection of essays surveys the history of dance in an innovative and wide-ranging fashion. Editors Dils and Albright address the current dearth of comprehensive teaching material in the dance history field through the creation of a multifaceted, non-linear, yet well-structured and comprehensive survey of select moments in the development of both American and World dance. This book is illustrated with over 50 photographs, and would make an ideal text for undergraduate classes in dance ethnography, criticism or appreciation, as well as dance history—particularly those with a cross-cultural, contemporary, or an American focus.

The reader is organized into four thematic sections which allow for varied and individualized course use: Thinking about Dance History: Theories and Practices, World Dance Traditions, America Dancing, and Contemporary Dance: Global Contexts. The editors have structured the readings with the understanding that contemporary theory has thoroughly questioned the discursive construction of history and the resultant canonization of certain dances, texts and points of view. The historical readings are presented in a way that encourages thoughtful analysis and allows the opportunity for critical engagement with the text.

Ebook Edition Note: Ebook edition note: Five essays have been redacted, including “The Belly Dance: Ancient Ritual to Cabaret Performance,” by Shawna Helland; “Epitome of Korean Folk Dance”, by Lee Kyong-Hee; “Juba and American Minstrelsy,” by Marian Hannah Winter; “The Natural Body,” by Ann Daly; and “Butoh: ‘Twenty Years Ago We Were Crazy, Dirty, and Mad’,”by Bonnie Sue Stein. Eleven of the 41 illustrations in the book have also been redacted.
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