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Society of Dance History Scholars

Annual Awards 2013

The Society of Dance History Scholars is delighted to announce its annual awards for 2013. These prestigious awards support the work of dance scholars at various stages of their careers. The Selma Jeanne Cohen and Graduate Student Travel Awards will be presented at the annual Awards Luncheon during the conference, “Dance ACTIions—Traditions and Transformations,” held in collaboration with NOFOD (Nordic Forum for Dance Research)in Trondheim, Norway this June. . The Gertrude Lippincott and de la Torre Bueno Prize® will be awarded in November at a special conference, “Decentering Dance Studies: Moving in New Global Orders,” in Riverside, California.

The Selma Jeanne Cohen Award is of special significance as it recognizes outstanding English-language papers by graduate students who demonstrate excellence in dance scholarship. The 2013 awards will be given to Kelley Klein, Suparna Banerjee, and Jingqiu Guan. Named in recognition of Selma Jeanne Cohen's great contributions to dance history, SDHS inaugurated an award in her name at the 1995 conference to encourage graduate student involvement in SDHS and the larger dance studies community. This award includes an invitation to present a paper at the 2013 annual conference to be held in Norway this June, waiver of the registration fee for that conference, and a grant to help defray costs of attending the conference. Awards are based on the originality of the research, the rigor of the argument, and the clarity of the writing. The award committee was comprised of Sansan Kwan, Lester Tome, and Purnima Shah, chair.

Ecological Consciousness through Somatic Practice in Community-Based Performance: Palissimo’s ‘Bastard’ ” by Kelley Klein of The Ohio State University illuminates rehearsal practices that encourage ecological, collaborative relationships among dancers with specific reference to Pavel Zustiak’s Bastard. She proposes a political reading of Zustiak’s choreographic methods, in which she identifies a potential for democratizing the interactions between the individual and the group, and contesting a neoliberal paradigm of individualism and competition. Klein probes this claim in terms of embodiment, examining modalities of bodily awareness and decision-making processes through which dancers perceive themselves in connection to a group and react to the environment while interpreting choreographic scores through movement.

“I and digi-I: reading the ‘digital double’ in the contemporary Bharatanatyam choreographies” by Suparna Banerjee of the University of Roehampton, UK, investigates the emerging applications of digital technologies in contemporary Indian dance. Banerjee provides an insightful exploration of the digital double with particular reference to two Bharatanatyam choreographies from Britain, Last One Standing (2008) choreographed by Seeta Patel and Kamala Devam and Many More Me (2011) by Shamita Ray. Drawing on Steve Dixon’s definitions of the digital double as the performer’s reflection / alter-ego and the Freudian concept of narcissism, Banerjee analyzes the choreographies to explore how these doubles conceal and reveal split subjectivities and fragmented realities.

“The Protesting Arabesque” by Jingqiu Guan of the University of Iowa offers a compelling study of the body politics and gender representation in Cultural Revolution China through a careful examination of the two “model ballets” of the period. These ballets and the other “model operas” that were promoted during the Cultural Revolution (as the only allowable forms of performance) have typically been understood as explicit propaganda about class struggle, as well as anti-Japanese and anti-Western exhortation. Guan argues that in addition to these more direct aims, the ballets also offered a new, more liberated, more empowered representation of the Chinese female subject under Mao. Guan not only formulates an argument about gender politics in China, but also offers a new way of understanding femininity in the ballet tradition more generally.

The 2013 Graduate Student Travel Awards are extended to two exciting student scholars, Alexandra Harlig and Anaïs Sékiné. Harligfrom The Ohio State University received the grant to present her to present her paper, “The Madison Rises Again: History and Community at Columbus Ohio's 1960s Dance Party”at the annual conference. The committee also selected Sékiné from Université de Montréal to attend and present "Cultural Appropriations and the Politics of Joy: a study of Lindy hop in Montreal swing dance.” Harlig and Sékiné stood out amongst a wide field of applicants, both for their articulate, compelling, and cohesive proposals, which directly engage with this year's conference theme, and for their strong rationale for attending the conference. The Graduate Student Travel Grant Committee for 2013 consisted of Ying Zhu, Kathrina Farrugia and Ramón Rivera-Servera, chair.

Anurima Banerji and J. Lorenzo Perillo receive the prestigious Gertrude Lippincott Award this year. The Lippincott is awarded annually to the best English-language article published in dance studies. Named in honor of its donor, a dedicated teacher of modern dance in the Midwest and mentor for many students, it was established to recognize excellence in the field of dance scholarship. The award carries a cash purse of $500. In recognition of the excellence and innovation evident in this year’s submissions, The Gertrude Lippincott Award Committee has recommended two awards for 2013. The committee was comprised of John Perpener, Sabine Sorgel and April Henderson, chair.

“Dance and the Distributed Body: Odissi, Ritual Practice, and Mahari Performance” by Anurima Banerji of UCLA (About Performance 11: 7–39) is a fascinating and eloquent article which illuminates relationships between contemporary Odissi dance and forms upon which it draws, particularly the ritualised performative context of mahari dance. The article cogently applies a central analytical frame—Gell’s distributed body—to an impressive range of ethnographic, historical, religious, philosophical, and architectural material, exploring “the discourses of embodiment and the hermeneutics of the corporeal subject subtending and surrounding mahari dance,” (7) and ultimately drawing conclusions about key differences between the ritualized mahari context and the later Odissi concert form. The committee were impressed by the article’s clarity, organisation, nuance, and ability to supply a wealth of detail while maintaining an effective through-line and compelling argument. Readers are provided with a fascinating account of the lives of mahari performers within the context of their time and place.

“If I was not in prison, I would not be famous”: Discipline, Choreography, and Mimicry in the Philippines” by J. Lorenzo Perillo of UCLA ( Theatre Journal 63: 607–621)is a timely and provocative article that dissects the complex ways popular dance choreography—and its presentation and circulation via online media—can function as a disciplining strategy implicated in regimes of penality and the racialized and gendered politics of colonial/neocolonial power relations. The article’s case study is the widely-viewed 2007 YouTube video of inmates at the Philippines’ Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) performing a mass-choreographed version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Committee members felt this article to be an excellent example of the kind of dance research that has been developing over the past decade or so — studies that examine the phenomenon of dance performance that gains its visibility and acclaim primarily through its exposure over the Internet.

Since 1973 SDHS has also annually awarded The de la Torre Bueno Prize® to the year's most distinguished book of dance scholarship. Named after José Rollins de la Torre Bueno, the first university press editor to develop a list in dance studies, the Bueno Prize has set the standard for scholarly excellence in the field for more than thirty years. This year the Prize will be announced by the Society in November.

SDHS was organized in 1978 as a professional network and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1983. The society now counts among its members, individuals and institutions across the globe committed to the interdiscipline of dance studies. SDHS was admitted to the American Council of Learned Societies as a constituent member in 1996 and is committed to the advancement of the field of dance studies through research, publication, performance, and outreach to audiences across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. SDHS holds wide-ranging annual conferences; publishes new scholarship through its proceedings and book series; collaborates regularly with peer organizations in the U.S. and abroad; and presents yearly awards for exemplary scholarship, including the de la Torre Bueno Prize®.

Congratulations to all of the 2013 winners.

Press Release created by

Dr. Jill Nunes Jensen

Corresponding Secretary, Society of Dance History Scholars


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