Society of Dance History Scholars Announces
2011 de la Torre Bueno Prize® winner
Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance by Carrie J. Preston

The Society of Dance History Scholars announces the 2011 winner of the de la Torre Bueno Prize for the best English language writing on dance historiography. The Bueno Prize has been awarded annually since 1973 to the year’s most distinguished book of dance scholarship. Named after José Rollins de la Torre Bueno, the first university press editor to develop a list in dance studies, the Bueno Prize has set the standard for scholarly excellence in the field for more than thirty years. Society of Dance History Scholars takes special pride in awarding the Bueno Prize, through which we recognize the labor and achievement rigorous scholarship in dance historiography demands regardless of the era, genre, or performers investigated. Congratulations are due, indeed, to the winner, and her publisher.

The 2011 award goes to Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance by Carrie J. Preston (Oxford University Press). Preston is currently an Associate Professor of English at Boston University.

The 2011 award committee writes, “Carrie J. Preston offers a thorough, rigorous, interdisciplinary analysis of Delsartism-- the popular transnational movement which promoted mythic statue-posing, poetic recitation, and other hybrid solo performances for health and spiritual development; a movement that was largely organized by women, and that shaped modernist performances, genres, and ideas of gender.” The award committee continues:

Conceived by the French movement visionary Francois Delsarte, who developed an acting style connected the inner emotional experience of the actor with a systematized set of gestures and movements based upon observations of human interaction, Delsartism and its theories of the body formed the groundwork for the techniques of early modern dancers Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, and Rudolf Laban. The core of Delsarte’s technique was the mythic pose-- a bodily attitude imitating an ancient statue, a poetic pose that repositions a character from myth to current life. Mythic posing, “an imagined rupture in time,” was part of a search for a reunified body and soul that modernity seemed to have severed. Drawing on examples from literature, dance, photography, and film, Modernism’s Mythic Pose forwards the idea that the ancient world served as an unconventional source of inspiration for a generation of modernists; and argues that a strain of anti-modern classicism permeates modernist celebrations of novelty, shock, and technology.

Most illustrative for the field of dance studies, Preston holds forth on the power of the body in performance; how poetic rhythms and emotions invoke bodily expressions; and the origins of poetry and poetic cadence in dance and dance rhythms. She most exquisitely considers the solo dance performances of Isadora Duncan, whose processes of representation entwined Delsartian poses with live music, stylish décor/costume, and curtain call speeches that comprised a modernist manifesto foreshadowing proto-feminist performance practice.

Preston’s book is a bold, visionary, articulate effort that brings dance modernism into wider conversations and reminds us of the utterly definable presence of the body in expressive modes of performance as well as in metaphysical and materialist discourse.

The committee for the 2011 prize comprised Susan Foster (World Arts and Cultures, UCLA) and Anita Gonzalez (Theatre Arts, SUNY New Paltz), with Constance Valis Hill (Dance, Hampshire College) as chair.

The award will be presented at a special ceremony sponsored by SDHS in 2013.

SDHS publications

Studies in Dance History SDHS’s monograph series, published by University of Wisconsin Press, answers a growing demand for works that provide fresh analytical perspectives on dancing, dancers, and dances in a global context. Read more...

[cover of 2012 Conversations] Issued yearly in early spring generally, Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies reflects the dynamic and diverse membership of SDHS. We seek to bring you themes and debates current in the field of dance studies and the profession, alongside news from the international community of scholars in dance and related disciplines. Read more...

conferences

Conference 2014: Writing Dancing/Dancing Writing
A Joint Conference of The Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) and The Congress on Research in Dance (CORD)
13–16 November 2014
Hosted by the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa

Conference 2015 will be held in Athens, Greece. Dates and other details will be available later this Spring.

news

The SDHS Board of Directors election takes place during the final two weeks of February. All SDHS members may vote. Please log in and then click here to view candidates’ biographies. Ballots will be available beginning on Feb. 15.

SDHS announces the November 2013 awards, including de la Torre Bueno Prize® Special Citations.

Proceedings of the 2013 joint NOFOD/SDHS conference are now available.

Proceedings of the Special Topics Conference 2013: “Sacre Celebration: Revisiting, Reflecting, Revisioning” are now available.

Call for proposals for contributions to Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies: Network of Pointes (Guest Editors: Drs. Kathrina Farrugia and Jill Nunes Jensen). Note that the deadline has been extended to May 15, 2014.

Updated 3 April: Conference announcements and calls for papers

Updated 3 April: Job postings and opportunities for students

Updated 24 February: News and announcements from SDHS members: “The American Society for Theatre Research is now seeking nominations for the Biennial Sally Banes Publication Prize....”

SDHS endorses MLA statement on learning another language

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