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Dances that Describe Themselves
The Improvised Choreography of Richard Bull
Susan Leigh Foster

2002 • 352 pp. 35 illus. 8 x 9 1/4"
Dance / Cultural Studies

$28.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6551-8

An inquiry into improvisation as practiced by Richard Bull and his contemporaries.

During an improvised performance, both dancers and audience members reflect on how the dance is being made. They ask themselves: What will happen next? What choices will each dancer make? And how will these decisions contribute to the overall effect and significance of the performance?

Trained as a jazz pianist, Richard Bull did not uphold the opposition often found in dance between improvisation and composition. Instead, he believed that dancers, like jazz musicians, could craft a piece spontaneously in performance. Analyzing performances by Bull and many of his contemporaries, Susan Foster argues that their diverse practices embody distinctive values representative of different artistic communities, yet they all share a capacity to reflect on their own making, in a sense, describing themselves.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"Foster elegantly and seamlessly integrates the Africanist improvisational aesthetic into her lively, detailed picture of Bull's world, realigning a landscape that has too long suffered from ethnocentric skew."—Brenda Dixon Gottschild, author of Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance

"This is an extremely important book. By adopting Richard Bull's tactic of personifying 'the dance' as if it were a speaking, thinking person, Foster’s book forces us to think about dance as a way of knowing, and about the ways of knowing that will be most useful for our understanding of dance as a social practice and a social force."—George Lipsitz, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:28 -0500