Shaping Dance Canons: Criticism, Aesthetics, and Equity

Shaping Dance Canons: Criticism, Aesthetics, and Equity



Dance criticism has long been integral to dance as an art form, serving as documentation and validation of dance performances, yet few studies have taken a close look at the impact of key critics and approaches to criticism over time. The first book to examine dance criticism in the United States across 100 years, from the late 1920s to the early twenty-first century, Shaping Dance Canons argues that critics in the popular press have influenced how dance has been defined and valued, as well as which artists and dance forms have been taken most seriously.

Kate Mattingly likens the effect of dance writing to that of a flashlight, illuminating certain aesthetics at the expense of others. Mattingly shows how criticism can preserve and reproduce criteria for what qualifies as high art through generations of writers and in dance history courses, textbooks, and curricular design. She examines the gatekeeping role of prominent critics such as John Martin and Yvonne Rainer while highlighting the often-overlooked perspectives of writers from minoritized backgrounds and dance traditions. The book also includes an analysis of digital platforms and current dance projects—On the Boards TV, thINKingDANCE, Black Dance Stories, and Amara Tabor-Smith’s House/Full of BlackWomen—that challenge systemic exclusions. In doing so, the book calls for ongoing dialogue and action to make dance criticism more equitable and inclusive. [From]



Publication Date



University Press of Florida


Gainsville, FL



Shaping Dance Canons: Criticism, Aesthetics, and Equity

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