UW Press




FaceBook Twitter Tumblr GoodReads UW Press Newsletter

UW Press Blog







UW Madison

American Association of University Presses




Sharing the Dance
Contact Improvisation and American Culture
Cynthia J. Novack

New Directions in Anthropological Writing
George F. Marcus and James Clifford, Series Editors

In Sharing the Dance, Cynthia Novack considers the development of contact improvisation within its web of historical, social, and cultural contexts. This book examines the ways contact improvisers (and their surrounding communities) encode sexuality, spontaneity, and gender roles, as well as concepts of the self and society in their dancing.

While focusing on the changing practice of contact improvisation through two decades of social transformation, Novack’s work incorporates the history of rock dancing and disco, the modern and experimental dance movements of Merce Cunningham, Anna Halprin, and Judson Church, among others, and a variety of other physical activities, such as martial arts, aerobics, and wrestling.


Cynthia J. Novack is an anthropologist, dancer/ choreographer, and teacher. She is assistant professor of dance at Wesleyan College and a member of the Richard Bull Dance Theatre.





“In her book on contact improvisation and American culture, Novack finds a good balance between a clear analysis of the movement itself and a selected history of the cultural context of the inception of this dance form. . . . Novack has included a chapter based on her own experience with learning contact improvisation, which gives her historical writing a kind of self-reflexivity that is especially important within the field of dance scholarship.”

“[Novack’s] detailed descriptions of dancing, learning to dance, and watching dance provide substantive insights into processes through which the body is disciplined. Because of its comprehensive interpretation of dance, Novack’s work should serve as an important model for future research by all those interested in the body’s cultural construction.”
—Susan L. Foster, American Ethnologist

“Cynthia J. Novack is an anthropologist, dancer/choreographer, and teacher. With striking intelligence and patience, she writes from all these perspectives in this book.”
—Steve Paxton, Contact Quarterly

Sharing the Dance is valuable not just for its insights into the recent history of dance but also for the structures through which Novack analyses dance as a medium which conveys cultural meanings and values. . . . A much needed contribution to dance studies.”
—Burt Ramsay, Music, Theatre, Dance



Publicity and Press Kit Resources

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at publicity@wwwtest.uwpress.wisc.edu or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)



August 1990
LC: 89-040534 GV
280 pp.   6 x 9

Book icon
Paper $21.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-12444-1
Shopping cart


Review Cart