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Dance & Performance / African American Studies / Cultural History


Dancing Many Drums
Excavations in African American Dance
Edited by Thomas F. DeFrantz

Studies in Dance History
Published under the auspices of the Society of Dance History Scholars

The first scholarly anthology on African American dance

Few will dispute the profound influence that African American music and movement has had in American and world culture. Dancing Many Drums explores that influence through a groundbreaking collection of essays on African American dance history, theory, and practice. In so doing, it re-evaluates black and African American as both racial and dance categories. Abundantly illustrated, the volume includes images of a wide variety of dance forms and performers, from ring shouts, vaudeville, and social dances to professional dance companies and Hollywood movie dancing.

Bringing together issues of race, gender, politics, history, and dance, Dancing Many Drums ranges widely, including discussions of dance instruction songs, the blues aesthetic, and Katherine Dunham's controversial ballet about lynching, Southland. In addition, there are two photo essays: the first on African dance in New York by noted dance photographer Mansa Mussa, and another on the 1934 African opera, Kykunkor, Or the Witch Woman.

Thomas F. DeFrantz is associate professor of music and theater arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to scholarly articles, he has written on dance for the Village Voice and Philadelphia Inquirer. He is a dancer and choreographer and directs the dance history program at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center.

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cover of the DeFranz book features an old photo of an African American girl in dance shoes

November 2001

352 pp. 6 x 9
73 b/w photos, 2 illustrations

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Paper $26.95 t
ISBN 978-
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Dancing Many Drums unearths many artists and performance companies whose work should be made available to the scholarly community and the general public. DeFrantz presents new scholarship by new writers who are well versed in the history of African American dancing, many through actual dance practice.”
—Anita Gonzalez, Florida State University

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Updated June 7, 2012

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