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Congratulations to the 2020 Dance Studies Association Book Awardees!

The DSA awards contribute not only to the visibility of the individuals and works honored, but also to the visibility of dance research and to our continuing drive for excellence in dance scholarship.  We look forward to celebrating this scholarship through Digital DSA.  Stay tuned for program announcements!

For formal press release, click HERE


Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research

The Dance Studies Association is honored to award the 2020 Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research to Clare Croft's Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings (OUP, 2017) and Judith Hamera's Unfinished Business: Michael Jackson, Detroit, and the Figural Economy of American Deindustrialization (OUP, 2017). The Brockett Prize is awarded each year to the best book in dance published during the previous three calendar years.  To read more about the Brockett Prize, visit the DSA website
Clare Croft’s edited volume Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings was commended by the award committee for its boldness in demonstrating and embodying the generative potential of coalitional and collaborative Dance Studies work on queer dance. Exercising curatorial and editorial prowess, editor Clare Croft gives fresh presence to  non-normative conceptions of the queer – foregrounding investigations of a range of feminist queer-of-color practice, productively feminist-identified.
Queer Dance is a model for scholarship that transcends theory/practice divides; designed to circulate across multiple platforms—including live performance, traditional print media, and digital multimedia. Not only theorizing coalition, the book itself performs coalition, bringing together seventeen thought-provoking essays with a website and a performance series offering full performance works linked digitally to the volume. As an important archive of twenty-first century queer dance, Croft’s volume makes an important contribution to the digital arts and humanities, modeling a way for scholarly texts to be inclusive of the voices and works of dance artists and queer activists. As Croft observes in her strong introductory essay, the book makes the case for dance studies as itself coalitional, essentially joined in vital aspects with black studies, feminism, queer studies and queer performance. The Introduction not only stretches the reach of Dance Studies but the book as a whole advances feminist, anti-racist, and decolonial work in dance studies through complex theoretical, historical, and methodological interventions.

Croft’s presence on this project goes well beyond that of a typical monograph editor, it includes curation of a queer dance performance series, securing high quality video documentation of those performances, and conducting extensive interviews with the dancers and choreographers about how their artistic practice embodies and extends queer theory. All these materials are included on the book’s website, creating together with the volume, a rich resource for teaching, as well as an invaluable archive of queer dance performance in the early twenty-first century.

Authors, contributors, and artists that contributed to this anthology include Lou Henry Hoover, Sandra Chatterjee, Cynthia Ling Lee, Shyamala Moorty, Emily Wilcox, Gu Jiani, J. Carter, Jennifer Campbell, Hannah Kosstrin, Thomas F. Defrantz, Justin Torres, Nic Gareiss, Kareem Khubchandani, Peter Carpenter, Jennifer Monson, DD Dorvillier, Angie Ahlgren, Rocky Monroe, Patrick McKelvey, Martine Whitehead, Kevin Guy, James Morrow, Gina Kohler, Cleek Schrey, Doran George (in memorium), and Amy Guilmette. 
Judith Hamera’s Unfinished Business is a shining example of Dance Studies in interdisciplinary perspective. Reading dancing as well as other forms of performance, the book explores the figural economies that circulate, prop, or resist the structural economy, particularly deindustrialization in the neoliberal, racialized capitalism of the United States. As capitalism, always racialized, shifts from factory to finance, Hamera watches how the shift plays across racialized bodies in figural practices, arguing that the two processes – figural and structural –
co-constitute each other. Hamera pushes beyond general critiques of neoliberalism to theorize “the deindustrial” as a specific historical and political moment in the broader context of global capitalism. Her achievement is substantial, both personal and elaborately grand, it dismantles the political economy, revealing its real effects on the urban landscape of Detroit.

Deeply complex thinking about the interface between work, labor and performance in post-industrial USA is evident beginning with the ‘thin’-ness of Michael Jackson and ending with the ‘stuffed toys’ of urban art projects. Hamera’s development of concepts such as “gestic space” provides new critical and analytic tools dismantling the projections and anxieties of disruptive and corrosive economic change. Analyzing media representations of Michael Jackson’s performances of “fiscal deviance,” Hamera shows how structural racism shaped the “ideal neoliberal financialized subject.” She illuminates finance as itself as a performance genre, that offers “a mode of self-expression.” It is exciting to see Dance Studies applying its insights not only to theatre, interactive art, and media spectacle, but the broader financial systems in which dance, and other performance mediums, circulate as “the figural economy.”

de la Torre Bueno® Prize and
de la Torre Bueno® First Book Award

The Dance Studies Association is honored to award the 2020 de la Torre Bueno® Prize to Anurima Banerji's Dancing Odissi: Paratopic Performances of Gender and State (Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press, 2019) and the de la Torre Bueno® First Book Award to Victoria Fortuna's Moving Otherwise: Dance, Violence, and Memory in Buenos Aires (OUP, 2019).  A de la Torre Bueno® First Book Special Citation has additionally been issued to Hari Krishnan's Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam (Wesleyan University Press 2019). These prizes are made possible by the generosity of Mary Bueno.  To read more about these awards, visit the DSA website.
Anurima Banerji’s book offers a multilayered argument about Odissi dance history, gender, and shifting relationships to the state. Neither adopting nor rejecting the two dominant narratives of Odissi dance history, she instead offers new histories that sit alongside the dominant ones. Her concept of paratopic performance (performances of difference alongside the dominant) has considerable critical potential. Banerji is especially attuned to what she calls “extraordinary gender” in Odissi, such as maharis and gotipuas. Also impressive is the
book’s genealogy of key postcolonial figures and institutions shaping Odissi beginning in the 1930s, including references to the film industry. Though some of this history has been shared in other publications, the richness of detail and depth of textual references---including Odia-language texts—demonstrate a rigor, comprehensiveness, and clarity that makes for compelling reading and an exemplary historiographic model. Dancing Odissi is written in clear, elegant prose; indeed, Banerji’s discussion of attempts to undermine Odissi make for especially exciting reading.
Fortuna’s Moving Otherwise is an impressive history of contemporary dance in Buenos Aires from the mid-1960s to the mid-2010s: a period including a series of brutal military dictatorships that saw tens of thousands of people violently disappeared, as well as a devastating economic crisis. Centered around Fortuna’s idea of “moving otherwise,” the book compellingly demonstrates how contemporary dance practices on and off the stage “[offer] alternatives to, and sometimes critiques, the patterns of movement and bodily comportment that shape everyday life in contexts
marked by violence” (4). Fortuna demonstrates through careful archival research, extensive interviews, and insightful analysis of staged and political choreographies, the multiple levels of moving otherwise that dancers deployed in society, on stage, in prisons, and on the streets.  Its strengths include its exceptionally deep and serious engagement with dance studies sources; its significant contribution to the intersection of dance, trauma theory, and politics; its use of both English and Spanish-language sources; its effective theorizing, and clear and compelling prose.  Fortuna does an exceptional job of integrating political economic particulars and national politics in close analyses of a wide range of actors and, in so doing, expands dance studies understandings of both hemispheric contemporary dance and hemispheric dance modernisms. 
Celluloid Classicism is an invaluable addition to scholarship on Bharatanatyam in the crucial period between the 1930s and 1950s, offering an impeccably researched and well-argued revision of the common recounting of this phase of the dance’s history which has it that devadasis, if they
kept dancing, went into film while Brahmin women dominated the stage, and discourses on caste and morality kept the two realms separate.  Krishnan’s archival work is impeccable: combining interviews with readings of key films and reconstructions of lost works using songbooks. Throughout, he is deeply attuned to gender, class, and caste, especially in charting devadasi genealogies in early cinematic works. He includes invaluable reflections on the complexity of working artists’ lives in these crucial periods, and argues persuasively that specific dimensions of some lives undergird the cinematic invention of “classical” bharatanyam as a middle-class form.
Dance Studies Association
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