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New German Dance Studies$
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Susan Manning and Lucia Ruprecht

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036767

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036767.001.0001

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Affect, Discourse, and Dance before 1900

Affect, Discourse, and Dance before 1900

(p.17) 1. Affect, Discourse, and Dance before 1900
New German Dance Studies

Christina Thurner

University of Illinois Press

This chapter analyzes aesthetic treatises that historicize claims that see dance as an art of expression that projects emotions in an immediate fashion. Such a mythical understanding often prevails up to today. It emphasizes that important aspects of a major event in the history of dance—ballet reform in the eighteenth century—were actually prescribed in aesthetic discourse before their implementation on stage. The chapter also provides crucial historical background to the renewed interest in expression in dance after 1900. It shows that, from the eighteenth century onwards, the discourse of dance for the most part ignored the parameters that allow us to perceive the interaction between dancers and audience as immediate, as the double movement of an emotional relationship in motion. This made perfect sense in the context of ballet reform, and the associated paradigm shift toward a sensualist aesthetic, but it has only limited application to later developments in the art of dance.

Keywords:   dance history, ballet reform, expression, aesthetic discourse, dancers, audience

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