Choreographing Identities

Folk Dance, Ethnicity and Festival in the United States and Canada

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About the Book

Throughout its history, the United States has become a new home for thousands of immigrants, all of whom have brought their own traditions and expressions of ethnicity. Not least among these customs are folk dances, which over time have become visual representations of cultural identity. Naturally, however, these dances have not existed in a vacuum. They have changed—in part as a response to ever-changing social identities, and in part as a reaction to deliberate manipulations by those within as well as outside of a particular culture.
Compiled in great part from the author’s own personal dance experience, this volume looks at how various cultures use dance as a visual representation of their identity, and how “traditional” dances change over time. It discusses several “parallel layers” of dance: dances performed at intra-cultural social occasions, dances used for representation or presentation, and folk dance performances. Individual chapters center on various immigrant cultures. Chiefly the work focuses on cultural representation and how it is sometimes manipulated. Key folk dance festivals in the United States and Canada are reviewed. Interviews with dancers, teachers, and others offer a first-hand perspective. An extensive bibliography encompasses concert programs and reviews as well as broader scholarly sources.

About the Author(s)

Award winning choreographer Anthony Shay is an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Pomona College, Claremont, California. His articles have appeared in Dance Research Journal, Iranian Studies Journal, International Encyclopedia of Dance, and other publications.

Bibliographic Details

Anthony Shay
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 37 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2600-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5153-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction      1

Part I: Folk Dance

1. Immigrant Dance      9

2. Choreographic Strategies of Representation      33

Part II: Ethnicity

3. Ethnicity, Heritage, and Tradition      45

4. Immigrant and Ethnic Communities      57

5. Mexican Americans      63

6. Greek Americans      91

7. Filipino Americans      106

8. Croatian Americans      116

9. Arab Americans      125

10. Iranian Americans      138

Part III: Festival

11. The International Folk Dance Festival      155

12. The St. Paul Festival of Nations      166

13. The International Folk Dance Festival of Los Angeles      179

14. The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival      187

15. Nations of San Diego International Dance Festival      195

16. The Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival      204

Conclusion—The Politics of Representation      221

Notes      229

Bibliography      235

Index      243

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Choice; “Shay creates a…vivid picture…one of the strengths of Shay’s work is the humanity he brings to scholarly inquiry”—Dance Chronicle.