Body parts are examined through a multifaceted cultural lens. Readers will explore how the parts are understood, what they mean to disparate societies, how they are managed, treated, and transformed, and how they are depicted and represented. The entries draw from many disciplines that are concerned to some degree or another with human bodies, including anthropology archeology, sociology, religion, political history, philosophy, art history, literary studies, and medicine. The encyclopedia proffers information on a number of cultures, tribes, and customs from East and West. Ancient practices to the latest fad, which in fact might continue ancient practices, are illuminated. Other considerations that arise in the essays include comparisons among cultures, the changing perceptions of the body, and issues of race, gender, religion, community and belonging, ethnicity, power structures, human rights.
The format of the book evolved from the idea that improvisation is a good way to learn choreography. This approach is in harmony with widely accepted dance philosophies that value the unique quality of each individual’s creativity. After discussing a concept, the authors provide improvisations, and choreographic studies that give the student a physical experience of that concept. The language is stimulating an innovative, rich in visual images that will challenge the choreographer to explore new directions in movement.
The book is for serious dance students and professionals who are interested in both the practical and theoretical aspects of the art, dancers who are just starting to choreograph, and teachers who are seeking fresh ideas and new approaches to use with young choreographers. (A Teacher’s Addendum offers suggestions on how to use the material in the classroom.) It is a guide, a text, and an extensive resource of every choreographic concept central to the art form.