Society of Dance History Scholars
Awards Announcement — November, 2013
The Society of Dance History Scholars is pleased to announce awards for November, 2013. These prestigious awards support the work of dance scholars at various stages of their careers. The Selma Jeanne Cohen, Gertrude Lippincott, and the de la Torre Bueno Prizes® will be awarded on November 15, 2013 at a special joint conference (co-produced with CORD, The Congress on Research in Dance), “Decentering Dance Studies: Moving in New Global Orders,” in Riverside, California, November. The Selma Jeanne Cohen and Graduate Student Travel Awards were also presented earlier this year during the conference, “Dance ACTIions—Traditions and Transformations,” held June 8–11, 2013, in collaboration with NOFOD (Nordic Forum for Dance Research) in Trondheim, Norway.
Rachel Carrico, Sinibaldo De Rosa, and Mique’l Dangeli are awarded the November, 2013 Selma Jeanne Cohen awards, with an Honorable Mention going to Priya Thomas. This award is of special significance as it recognizes outstanding English-language papers by graduate students who demonstrate excellence in dance scholarship. Named in recognition of Selma Jeanne Cohen’s great contributions to dance history, SDHS inaugurated an award in her name at the 1995 conference to encourage graduate student involvement in SDHS and the larger dance studies community. This award includes an invitation to present a paper at the 2013 conference, waiver of the registration fee for that conference, and a grant to help defray costs of attending the conference. Awards are based on the originality of the research, the rigor of the argument, and the clarity of the writing. The award committee members were Yolonda Denise Covington, MJ. Thompson, and Rachmi Diyah Larasati, chair.
“On the Street and in the Studio: Decentering and Recentering Dance in the New Orleans Second Line” by Rachel Carrico of UC Riverside explores the individual, percussive, improvised dance that occurs during a second line parade in New Orleans. Carrico compares two sites where the role of dance is divergently deployed: in dance classrooms in a post-Katrina context and in street performance. Her analysis troubles the movement of the second line as a quotidian ritual of spatial transformation into the recreational or leisure space of the classroom, with its emphasis on technique and/or fitness. Carrico’s writing enables us to rethink parade as a spatial, choreographic, and political expression of blackness– formulating aesthetic resistance in the performance of body, space and its negotiation in post-Katrina New Orleans. Carrico investigates the “second line” dance form as a genre that functions to decenter technique claiming its new spatial resilience through minority expression. Carrico pays attention to a historiography of body that involves an experimentation of technique, employing restriction and openness, as well as a co-optation. Most notably she employs a descriptive, reflexive, and performative writing style that captures the sound, rhythms, and movements of second line dancing, beckoning the reader to join the procession.
“Samah: Kardeşlik Töreni — A Dynamic Bodily Archive For The Alevi Semah” by Sinibaldo De Rosa (a student in “Human Movement Notation” at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Paris, CNSMDP) introduces unfamiliar terrain by looking at the conception of the moving-ritualistic body, and its participation and peripheral structural relation to the state/government as a form of order and centralized aesthetic choice. As a result, categorization and the conception of religion and dance are entangled. Dance then can be seen as a form of expression and also language of other minority practices — in strategizing national space. The paper argues how the dancing sites within the terrain of religious practice often become generalized and subject to assumption — empty of the involvement of dancing bodies. What might actually become reconstructed could thus be a site of multiple temporality or transmission within genealogical context. This paper, is a project of decentering “dance” in the sense of calling attention to non-western methodology and in locating dance as praxis and practice and formulating identification within tradition as inspiration. Still, it is a non- “national” inspiration that profoundly recaptures the embodied connections to socio-politcs of location.
“Dancing Our Politics: Contemporary Issues in Northwest Coast First Nations Dance” by Mique’l Dangeli of the University of British Columbia explores the important role of dance in land ownership claims and expressions of group sovereignty for Aboriginal nations in Vancouver, British Columbia. Based on three years of study and her own life experiences as a First Nations performer, Dangeli argues that “protocol,” the rules that are used to structure oratory, songs, and dances used in the performances, should not be seen as a set of restrictions, but rather as strategic deployments that aim for “dancing sovereignty” in multiple audience contexts. With this paper, Dangeli centers the body in a process of remembering and simultaneously reclaiming space and relationships, bringing a new and fresh perspective to the intersection of studies of dance, bodies, and politics.
“Remote Choreography and the Ghost” by Priya Thomas receives an Honorable Mention. Thomas’s engagement with corporeality and the materialization of a lost body to advance the theorization of Remote Choreography brings a different proposal in commenting on technologies as a collaborator, through manipulation of “immaterial” recognition. The author convincingly argues how this virtual body — crafted — is able to re-historicize the deceased and reconstruct immaterial presence.
As was announced in June, Anurima Banerji and J. Lorenzo Perillo receive the esteemed Gertrude Lippincott Award this year. The Lippincott is awarded annually to the best English-language article published in dance studies. Named in honor of its donor, a dedicated teacher of modern dance in the Midwest and mentor for many students, it was established to recognize excellence in the field of dance scholarship. The award carries a cash purse of $500. In recognition of the excellence and innovation evident in this year’s submissions, The Gertrude Lippincott Award Committee has recommended two awards for 2013. The committee members were John Perpener, Sabine Sorgel and April Henderson, chair.
“Dance and the Distributed Body: Odissi, Ritual Practice, and Mahari Performance” by Anurima Banerji of UCLA (About Performance 11: 7–39) is a fascinating and eloquent article which illuminates relationships between contemporary Odissi dance and forms upon which it draws, particularly the ritualised performative context of mahari dance. The article cogently applies a central analytical frame—Gell’s distributed body—to an impressive range of ethnographic, historical, religious, philosophical, and architectural material, exploring “the discourses of embodiment and the hermeneutics of the corporeal subject subtending and surrounding mahari dance,” (7) and ultimately drawing conclusions about key differences between the ritualized mahari context and the later Odissi concert form. The committee were impressed by the article’s clarity, organisation, nuance, and ability to supply a wealth of detail while maintaining an effective through-line and compelling argument. Readers are provided with a fascinating account of the lives of mahari performers within the context of their time and place.
“If I was not in prison, I would not be famous”: Discipline, Choreography, and Mimicry in the Philippines” by J. Lorenzo Perillo of UCLA (Theatre Journal 63: 607–621) is a timely and provocative article that dissects the complex ways popular dance choreography—and its presentation and circulation via online media—can function as a disciplining strategy implicated in regimes of penality and the racialized and gendered politics of colonial/neocolonial power relations. The article’s case study is the widely-viewed 2007 YouTube video of inmates at the Philippines’ Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) performing a mass-choreographed version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Committee members felt this article to be an excellent example of the kind of dance research that has been developing over the past decade or so — studies that examine the phenomenon of dance performance that gains its visibility and acclaim primarily through its exposure over the Internet.
Ramón H. Rivera-Servera and Tilden Russell both receive Special Citations for the de la Torre Bueno Prize®. Since 1973 SDHS has annually awarded The de la Torre Bueno Prize® 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. This year’s committee consisted of Susan Kozel, Susanna Sloat, and Gay Morris, chair.
Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics by Ramón H. Rivera-Servera (University of Michigan Press) has been selected for special citation for its scholarship, scope and methodology. Rivera-Servera weaves together issues that have contemporary significance in the national context of the U.S. and in a wider context of dance scholarship. With respect to the former, his research addresses politics, economics and sexuality, in particular the politics of immigration, the economic practices of urban redevelopment, and what he calls non-normative heterosexual (queer) communities building homes and communities based on dance. From the perspective of dance scholarship, he considers theatrical dance, social dance, and dance in social activism, emphasizing both the production and reception of these forms. He argues for dance as a deeply embodied form of material culture. His methodological approach is meticulously implemented and is a combination of “ethnographer, spectator, participant and, at times collaborator in the artistic, political and artistic projects” (18). His 4 themes of Home, Hope, Utopias, and Friction are poignant and effectively grounded.
Rivera-Servera’s work is theoretically sound, so that when he reaches out to philosophy, postcolonial discourses, or Latin studies to deepen his discussion of dance practices he does so effectively and with more than a surface understanding of the references he cites. He generously bridges the now-crumbling divide between dance studies and performance studies in a very forward thinking book, something planted in the 21st century.
The Compleat Dancing Master: A Translation of Gottfried Taubert’s Rechtschaffener Tantzmeister (1717) by Tilden Russell (Peter Lang). A special citation is awarded to Tilden Russell for his translation of Gottfried Taubert’s over 1200 page Rechtschaffener Tantzmeister, which Taubert, a dancing master himself, completed in 1717 in Leipzig, and for Russell’s illuminating separate introductory book, Volume I: Introduction.
The Bueno Prize committee writes:
As Russell explains, Taubert’s work is of value to “dance historians, historical dancers, choreographers, musicologists, students of German eighteenth-century culture, and dix-huitièmistes of all types.” Previously available only in a facsimile edition in 18th century fraktur type, Taubert’s work, thanks to Russell’s meticulous translation and thorough scholarship, is now accessible to a much enlarged pool of scholars. Taubert covers much ground exhaustively, but concentrates on “the morality of dance” and in his extensive chapters on the theory and practice of “poetic dance,” on the minuet. As Russell says in Introduction, “With a prodigious text such as this one, after all, translation is only the initiatory, tool-making stage in the process of unearthing its treasures.” Russell’s Introduction is an essential aid in this unearthing. Russell’s own writing is concise, elegant, and witty. His discussions of the many problems in translating this work and of Taubert’s place within the culture of his place and time indicate a scholarship by Russell himself of exacting depth. Particularly revealing is the chapter on “Taubert and the Enlightenment” in which Russell explores the way Taubert spans two world-views in seeming tension, that of the orthodox Lutheranism of his time and that of the early Enlightenment, making him a figure of interest to dance scholars and also to others who explore the contradictions of the transition to Enlightenment values.
Carrie J. Preston, winner of the 2011 Bueno Prize for Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance (Oxford University Press) will also receive her award at the November, 2013 conference awards ceremony. Preston is currently an Associate Professor of English at Boston University.
SDHS was organized in 1978 as a professional network and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1983. The society now counts among its members, individuals and institutions across the globe committed to the interdiscipline of dance studies. SDHS was admitted to the American Council of Learned Societies as a constituent member in 1996 and is committed to the advancement of the field of dance studies through research, publication, performance, and outreach to audiences across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. SDHS holds wide-ranging annual conferences; publishes new scholarship through its proceedings and book series; collaborates regularly with peer organizations in the U.S. and abroad; and presents yearly awards for exemplary scholarship, including the de la Torre Bueno Prize®.
Congratulations to all of the 2013 winners!
Dr. Jill Nunes Jensen
Corresponding Secretary, Society of Dance History Scholars