Choreography and Narrative

Choreography and Narrative

Ballet’s Staging of Story and Desire
Susan Leigh Foster
Distribution: World
Publication date: 08/22/1998
Format: Paperback 88 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-21216-0
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1997 Special Citation, Dance Perspectives Foundation, de la Torre Bueno PrizeA Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1997

Undoubtedly, Choreography and Narrative is an important contribution to dance history research." —Nineteenth-Century French Studies

This work is a landmark in the field and belongs in all libraries serving undergraduate, graduate, and faculty researchers in dance." —Choice

Invents a new method for writing the history of performance: Foster has found an innovative way of appealing directly to the kinesthetic imagination of her readers, evoking the elusive styles of the pieces she reconstructs." —Joseph Roach

An impressive work of scholarship, this elegantly staged study... uses the concept of a culturally constructed, historically specific body to cut across disciplinary boundaries..." —Library Journal

Foster examines the development of ballet, and conceptions of the dancing body, as ballet separated from opera and emerged as an autonomous art form during the turbulence of 18th-century French society and history.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Pygmalion’s No-Boby and The Body of Dance

1. Originary Gestures 13
Painting the situations of the soul Vanishing physicalities
Transgressive gestures Originating the action ballet

The Bank of Grass (le banc de gazon)
Telemaque dans l’ile de Calipso (1759)
On One Side, On the Other; Above and Below
Arlequin Soldat Magicien, ou le Canonier, Pantomime (1764)

2. Staging the Canvas and the Machine
Spectacular dancing bodies Horizontal and vertical perfection
Challenging hierarchy The more sensible machine

Make the Scheme Known
Jason et Medee (1771)
The Invigilant Dancer
Apelles et Campaspe (1776)

3. Narrating Passion and Prowess
Dancing the action A passion for anatomy
The language of dance The self-filled body

The Duel
Mirza (1779)
The Earth Trembles: The Thunder Roars
Le Premier Navigateur, ou le Pouvoir de l’Amour (1785)
Escape into the Heavens
Hercule et Omphale, Pantomime en 1 Acte (1787)

4. Governing the Body
The street, the stage, the nation Muscular geometry
Virtuoso docility Governing the Body politic

The Magically Inscribed Message
Les Royalistes de la Vendee, ou les Epoux Republicains,
Pantomime en Trois Actes (1794)
To Throw Oneself in the Arms Of(Se Jeter dans les bras)
La Dansomanie (1800)
Begin and End with Dancing
Nina, ou La Folle par Amour (1813)
Tell-Tale Evidence
Les Pages du Duc de Vendome (1820)

5. Fugitive Desires
Cruel nocturnal dancing Crafting diversion
Dancing the object of desire The dissolving object of the gaze

Making Merry/Gazing On
La Sylphide (1832)
Maybe Yes; Maybe No
La Voliere, ou les Oiseaux de Boccace (1838)
Dark Spaces
Giselle, ou les Wilis (1841)

Conclusion: Ballet’s Bodies and The Body of Narrative