AALBC.com LogoCopyright © 1997-2017, All Rights Reserved — https://aalbc.com — troy@aalbc.com — Tel: 347-692-2522

Book Review: The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool by Brenda Dixon Gottschild (2003-10-06)

The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool by Brenda Dixon Gottschild (2003-10-06)
by Brenda Dixon Gottschild

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $29.95 (store prices may vary)
    Format: Hardcover
    Classification: Nonfiction
    Page Count: 332
    ISBN13: 9780312240479
    Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan
    Publisher: Macmillan
    Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

    Read Palgrave Macmillan’s description of The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool by Brenda Dixon Gottschild (2003-10-06)

    Book Reviewed by

    This book actually came to my attention last month on the home page of African American Literature Book Club. Troy had it in the revolving new titles and the title immediately caught my eye. My wife is a professional dancer and makes her living choreographing and teaching. I have become an avid fan of the art form, but this book goes far beyond the artistic expression of dance.

    The Black Dancing Body: A geography from coon to cool is a thesis by Brenda Dixon Gottschild that examines the taboo references to the physical aesthetics of the ethnically African body. Gottschild has meticulously gathered some of the most influential dancers/choreographers of contemporary American dance to probe their points of view on the aspects of the black dancing body. Some of the noted contributors are; Bill T. Jones, Ron Brown, Garth Fagan, Wendy Perron, Meri’n Soto, Fernando Bujones, Ralph Lemon, Chuck Davis, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, all of them from a myriad of dance backgrounds and cultures. All of them acutely aware of the society's perception of Black dance and the Black dancing body. Through a series interviews Gottschild amassed a supposition that is extraordinary at the very least.

    Gottschild's approach to her subject matter can be analogous to turning on the microphone while someone is whispering. She is bold with exposing truth. Her suppositions are substantiated by historical research, personal experiences, and expert testimonies. Gottschild takes an in depth look beyond the aestheticisms of the black dancing body, but also the Africanist influences on most contemporary American dance. Her time-geographical journey travels from the pride of the African coast to the staged denigration of minstrel slapstick movement. It encompasses the assimilation of African culture in contemporary American dance to the point of homogeny.

    This is Gottschild's third book (after Waltzing in the Dark and Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance). In this series she examines the influences and acculturation of Africanist dance movement as the result of the African Diaspora. She tackles the arduous task of trying to define what is Black dance, a stereotypical term that she struggles with to accept its implications. She writes, "I don't believe there is such a phenomenon as black and white dance or even a black or white dancing body. [Yet] I cannot ignore or escape these terms. My strategy for going beyond them is to move through them."

    What I found most striking about this book is the educed self-examination that Gottschild imposes on herself. She establishes her conjecture through strikingly familiar personal experiences coupled with probing conversations with respected professionals. Her observations confront her personal fears of being defined as a Black dancer. During this journey she finds that society sees her and other Black dancers are a sum of their parts. Gottschild's supplicates the hopes of many Black dancers of today. She offers in depths look at the world of dance while advertently exposing the implications of that the dance guild is a microcosm of America itself. This book provides an excellent survey of the persistent crusade by Blacks to get beyond being identified by their: "Feet," "Soul/Spirit," "Skin/Hair," or their "Butt".

    The Black Dancing Body: A geography from coon to cool, celebrates the perceived strength of bodies forged by the hard work of our ancestors. The ethnic characteristics of ’so called’ Black bodies are lauded as the paragons of physical beauty today. Gottschild's work in examining this subject is reminiscent of the writings of Joel Augustus Rogers (1883-1966) author of From Superman to Man. She has done a commendable job on a subject very difficult to define. This book will be appreciated far beyond the dance community. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested the deconstruction of racial mythology and physical stereotypes.

    Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century
    25 African Male Writers You Should ReadAfrican Men: 25 You Must Read

    AALBC.com Bestselling BooksAALBC.com Bestselling Books

    Printed: December 17, 2017, 12:05 pm
    ☆ Mission
    To Celebrate Black Culture Through Literature and Literary Nonfiction to Readers of all Backgrounds and Ages; and Advocate for Independent Media

    ☥ About Us
    Started in 1997, AALBC.com (African American Literature Book Club) is the largest, most frequently visited web site of its kind. More
    Customer Service
    Advertising Rates
    Advertiser Login
    Contact Us – FAQ
    Give Us Feedback
    AALBC on Pinterest AALBC on Facebook AALBC on Twitter
    AALBC RSS Feed AALBC on Youtube Email AALBC