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A guided tour into the world of modern dance, this collection of essays, transcribed talks, and notes reveals the guiding principles of American modern dance founder Doris Humphrey. The main elements of composition—including form, content, and execution—are thoroughly examined in a question-and-answer format, providing an intimate look at the movement in the founder's own words. Examining Humphrey's unique combination of physics and philosophy, the book shows how one woman revolutionized the landscape of American dance.
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Princeton Book Company (September 1, 2008)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
Before recorded history there was dance
on February 21, 2010
By Bernard M. Patten
There were giants in the Earth in the old days and one of those giants has written this little gem of a book that will be of great interest to dancers. How fortunate that Doris Humphreys took the time to record for us her philosophy of modern dance and took the time to notate most of her modern dances. And how fortunate that Charles Humphries Woodford turned her notes and ideas into a book and how fortunate that Princeton Book Company published that book. Doris, of course, gives us her modern dance cannon that dance is basically a serious art form based on falls and recovery. That idea is new in dance, but not new in music or in human physiology. In music it is tension and release, crusis, meta crusis, and ana crucis. In physiology it is contraction, recoil, relaxation. In baseball it is hit, recoil, and relax. Such are the basic elements of human actions and dance is based on human values and experience. For instance, Doris tells us that dance phrases are based on human breathing patterns and rhymthms. The total outlook is summarized by her famous statement: “My dance is an art concerned with human values.” So read this work if you wish to sharpen your critical eye and improve your dance. But, you know, if we are to understand the good, we need to talk about what is not so good. What’s not so good is that some of the notes are too short and skimmpy (Corybantic 1948; Invention 1949; Night Spell 1951). The composer whose music is used for the dance is mentioned but the specific piece is not. Bela Bartok wrote a lot of good music. But what particular piece does Doris dance Corybantic to? We don’t know. Even the much better notated Day on Earth 1947 which runs three pages only mentions that the music comes from Aaron Copland. And while I am being critical, I shall also complain that the short biography is too short. It runs a page a a quarter and fails to mention the the cause of her final illness and the arthritis that led to her early retirement.
A worthy and highly recommended addition to modern dance history and reference shelves
on January 13, 2009
By Midwest Book Review
New Dance: Writings on Modern Dance is an anthology of essays, lectures, and notes revealing the muse behind the choreography created by modern dance founder Doris Humphrey (1895-1958). Including notes made before and during the creation of forty-one of her dances, and even an interview in which Humphrey speaks her own mind, New Dance is an invaluable glimpse into her contributions to the evolution of an art form. “[Q:] ‘What is your opinion of pantomime and dramatic action as sources for dance movement?’ DH: ‘I think both are wonderful as long as they are translated into movement, the danger being, of course, that the transition remains incomplete. Done by a master, I like pantomime.'” A worthy and highly recommended addition to modern dance history and reference shelves.
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