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The Work of Dance
Labor, Movement, and Identity in the 1930s
Mark Franko

2002 • 272 pp. 50 illus. 7 x 10"
Dance / Cultural Studies / American Studies

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6553-2

Explores the complex relationship between dance, work and labor in the 1930s.

In this insightful new book, Mark Franko explores the many genres of theatrical dancing during the radical decade of the 1930s and their relationship to labor movements, including Fordist and unionist organizational structures, the administrative structures of the Federal Dance and Theatre Project, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and the Communist Party. Franko shows how the structures of labor organization were reproduced and acted out — but also profoundly reasoned through in corporeal terms — by choreography and performance of the proletarian mass dance, the chorus line of the Ziegfeld Follies and the reflexive backstage musical film, Martha Graham’s modern dance, the revolutionary dance movement of the proletarian avant-garde, African-American “ethnic” opera-ballet, and Lincoln Kirstein’s “American” ballet.

The contributions of many important personalities of American theatrical, visual and literary culture are included in this study. Franko's focus extends from the direct impact of performances on audiences to the reviewing, reporting and photography of print journalism.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Written with clarity and urgency, this book will be of interest not only to dance scholars, but also to social historians, labor historians, and art historians, as well as all who seek a better understanding of the relationship between the arts and political change.”Jane Desmond, author of Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World

The Work of Dance enlarges conventional understandings of labor and of progressive politics through an elaboration of the agency of dance in performance. The book should garner the attention of those seeking to grasp that which made the 1930s in the United States so fruitfully contentious.”Randy Martin, Professor of Art and Public Policy, New York University


CHOICE Magazine “Outstanding Academic Title” (2003) Commendation

Author Photo

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:23 -0500