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‘Dance Analysis: theory and practice’ is the first attempt to draw together work in aesthetics on the value of analysing dance works with analytical practice from the fields of anthropology, criticism, choreographic and movement theories.

Dance scholars are not alone in perceiving a need for the detailed understanding of works; this is shared with the other arts and insights from these fields are incorporated.
Theories of analysis in any art are contentious; this text goes beyond the safe level of a structural account to characterise the imaginative involvement that is vital to the understanding of the significance of dance and to experiencing its power.

The four-stage practical method of dance analysis offers the dance scholar and teacher a framework for understanding dances more deeply. It takes account of the movement, the way it is formed within the dance as a whole, the subject matter that the dance takes and the treatment of the theme. The dance is seen to be located in a specific genre and style, which itself has to be understood within the appropriate social and historical context. Questions of the ‘meaning’ of dances and the rationality of both interpretation and critical judgement are debated.

This text outlines in summary form the concepts that underpin a structured approach to dance analysis and the skills that the observer requires. This detailed observation and imaginative understanding is then illustrated in essays on Swan Lake, Dark Elegies and two examples of New Dance (the British manifestation of postmodern dance).

It is the authors’ intention to propose a theory and practical method of analysis of dances across a broad spectrum of genres and styles and one which illuminates the work of the choreographer as much as the historian, the enthusiastic dance watcher as much as the scholar, the performer as much as the reconstructor.

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