Social Dancing in America [2 volumes]: A History and Reference Hardcover – Nov 6 2006
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Who would have thought that the topic of social dancing was so complex and nuanced or that it is so interesting? This beautifully composed, stylishly written examination of the social value of public dancing, as well as its function in reflecting changing values, begs to be read start to finish. The first chapter in volume 1 provides background on the history of social dance and American dance to 1740. The remaining four chapters cover the years 17401820, 18201865, and 18651900. Volume 2 is divided into seven chapters treating categories of twentieth-century dance, including the Charleston, swing, disco, and break dancing. Each chapter begins with a section on the political, cultural, and social climate and goes on to cover the dances themselves, followed by the venues where dancing typically took place. The discussions are deep and far ranging, dealing with political and religious controversies that dancing either expressed or stirred up. The text is laden with quotations from primary source material, and sidebars contain some choreographic information, such as diagrams and verbal instructions for the longways set and the quadrille. Highly informative black-and-white period reproductions and photographs extend the text perfectly. For example, photographs of both the Charleston and the shimmy shed light on the contemporary outrage over these dances. Both volumes conclude with bibliographies and detailed volume indexes. In addition, volume 1 has a "Select Bibliography of Online Dance Instruction Manuals Available from the Library of Congress," while volume 2 contains a "Select List of Hollywood Movies by Dance Type." This fascinating and readable work is suitable for any large performing-arts collection as well as collections on social history. It is a worthy companion to Maureen Needham's I See America Dancing (University of Illinois, 2002), which covers much of the same turf using primary source readings. Welton, Ann
"Giordano provides readers with a broad historical perspective on dance as it has commingled with American society throughout the history of the US. Divided into chronological order, the chapters begin with an overview of the time period, including the events and the social, political, and cultural characteristics that affected each era's dances and participants. This orientation provides a good background for each dance entry that follows. This set's strength is in tracing the origins of particular dances and noting their evolution within the contextual fabric of American culture. Entries are written in an accessible style, often punctuated with nicely captioned photographs and/or basic step patterns, leaving readers with a more complete image of the movement involved in the dances as well as the proximity of partners. Commendably, the author includes Native American dance entries alongside those nonindigenous dances that influenced American culture. The bibliography and index are helpful, as is the select bibliography of online dance instruction manuals provided via the Library of Congress. Recommended. Lower-/upper-level undergraduates and general readers." - Choice
"Social dancing has never enjoyed the cachet conferred on ballet or other theatrical dance forms, sometimes even when it comes to reference books. That is about to change with Giordano's comprehensive study of the subject spanning the centuries in the context of American social history. Volume 1, subtitled 'Fair Terpsichore to the Ghost Dance, 1607-1900,' illustrates the part social dancing has played in Americans' lives. It also contains the 'Select Bibliography of Online Dance Instruction Manuals Available from the Library of Congress' (available online at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/dihtml). Volume 2, subtitled 'Lindy Hop to Hip Hop, 1901-2000,' continues the story, connecting social dancing to societal developments throughout the 20th century. The text is enlivened by numerous illustrations, including sheet music and dancing manual covers, contemporary images, and period photographs. Each volume features an extensive bibliography. The popularity of television programs such as Dancing with the Stars (ABC) and Championship Ballroom Dancing (PBS) and the general resurgence of interest in ballroom dancing make this straightforward, detail-packed, and readable work an appropriate choice for public and academic collections." - Library Journal
"There are two good reasons to buy this book. First, it clearly fills a gap in the existing literature; second, the research that makes up the two volumes is both scholarly and carefully detailed….The work illustrates and illuminates how social dancing paralleled the social, economic, and cultural characteristics of each era….Social Dancing in America constitutes the most comprehensive examination of the subject available….[G]reat for public or academic libraries." - Reference & User Services Quarterly
"Who would have thought that the topic of social dancing was so complex and nuanced or that it is so interesting? This beautifully composed, stylishly written examination of the social value of public dancing, as well as its function in reflecting changing values, begs to be read start to finish….This fascinating and readable work is suitable for any large performing-arts collection as well as collections on social history." - Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin
"Most take him for a minuet man, but George Washington very well could have waltzed on his first Inaugural Day. Clog dancing was made easy in publications by 1873, and at any time of the day or night someone on this planet is donning a long-beloved white polyester suit and shooting a right forefinger into the air. Giordano takes a good long look at how we danced, why and with whom across the years from the fair terpsichore and set dances so complicated they required flash cards to country dances, the Virginia Reel, the polka, the cake walk, the two-step, and the much more seriously intentioned Buffalo Dance and Ghost Dance, followed by ragtime, the Charleston, jitterbug, swing, the Latin dances, rock and roll, disco, breakdancing, and recent revivals of classic dances." - Reference & Research Book News