Dancing Across Borders

The American Fascination with Exotic Dance Forms

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About the Book

This study describes and analyzes the phenomenal popularity of exotic dance forms in America. Throughout the twentieth century and especially since 1950, millions have begun learning and performing various Balkan dances, the tango, and other Latin American dances, along with the classical dances of India, Japan, and Indonesia.
Most studies in dance ethnography and anthropology have focused specifically on “dancing in the field,” or the dancing that native dancers do. This study, by contrast, examines the ways in which ethnic dancing has allowed many Americans to create more exciting, “exotic” and romantic identities. The author describes the uniquely American enthusiasm for exotic dances, and cites specific deficiencies in the U.S. cultural identity that have led many people to seek new feelings and experiences through exotic dance genres.

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: 231
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3784-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9212-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments      1

Introduction      5

Part I: Gateways

1. “I Nearly Swooned”: Empowering Encounters of the Exotic Kind      41

2. The Early Exotic Dancers      53

3. The Recreational International Folk Dance Movement      73

4. Ethnomusicology and Dance Ethnology      92

Part II: Genres

5. Kolomania: Balkan Dance as American Expression      109

6. Belly Dance: Embodied Orientalism      124

7. Classical Asian Dance: The Arduous Journey      148

8. Latin American Dances: Sin and Sex Made Safe      169

Conclusion      192

Notes      199

Bibliography      205

Index      215

Book Reviews & Awards

“valuable…recommended”—Choice.