Cover image for International dictionary of modern dance
International dictionary of modern dance
Benbow-Pfalzgraf, Taryn.
Publication Information:
Detroit, MI : St. James Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 891 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1585 .B46 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

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Offering an up-to-date and comprehensive examination of modern dance, this reference offers alphabetically arranged essays, selected, written and reviewed by expert contributors.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This biographical dictionary eschews ballet and social dance to concentrate on the dance form that blossomed in the twentieth century. Originating in popular theatrical performances, this form was influenced by the theory of expansive movement advocated by Delsarte, eventually receiving the name "modern dance." The dictionary provides information on dancers, choreographers, teachers, companies, designers, writers on dance, national overviews, and selected important dances. The Western world is emphasized, but coverage is global. The 425 clearly written entries are arranged alphabetically. Adjacent to roughly half of the personal and dance-company entries are clear black-and-white photographs, large enough to show detail. The typical pattern for personal entries is: field(s) of activity; Who's Who type biography with dates, education, career highlights, and awards; chronological listing of specific works; writings by and about; and an essay on the subject's contribution to modern dance. Written by subject specialists, the signed essays are long enough to provide insight. Preceding the main part of the dictionary are a five-page chronology of notable developments in modern dance, a list of contributors, and a list of entries. Concluding the volume are a four-page bibliography of books (almost all in English) on modern-dance topics, a breakdown of persons and companies by country, a classified index of entries under appropriate subjects, and brief identification of contributors. The International Dictionary of Modern Dance amplifies the modern-dance coverage found in Oxford's six-volume International Encyclopedia of Dance [RBB My 1 98]. There appears to be little overlap. Of the 49 entries in the As and Bs in the dictionary, only about 10 also receive coverage in the Oxford set, among them Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Gertrud Bodenwieser, and Butoh, a Japanese "dance-drama." Although libraries with general collections can skip it if they have already added the Oxford work, International Dictionary of Modern Dance will be useful in any public, academic, or special library where dance and the performing arts are of interest to readers.

Library Journal Review

The modern in modern dance is an attitude, not a time period. In the late 19th century, its pioneers broke with more traditional forms of dance (e.g., classical ballet) and devised a new dance vocabulary. Since then, modern dance artists have invented new forms, re-invented old forms, and generally turned Terpsichore on her ear. In the familiar style of other St. James performing arts reference books, alphabetically arranged, signed essays treat modern dance schools, artists, companies, periods, works, and performances. A chronology of modern dance opens the work, highlighting important events and people. Coverage spans the years from the birth of modern dance to the present, representing dancers and dance companies of many nations; there is even a nationality index. Striking black-and-white photographs accompany nearly half of the articles, and most, if not all, cite sources for further information. A lengthy general bibliography augments the material at the end of individual articles. Recommended for large reference and performing arts collections.‘Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Except for the alphabetical arrangement of entries, "dictionary" does not properly describe this encyclopedic volume of more than 400 signed entries on all aspects of modern dance. The majority treat individuals who have influenced the art since the 19th century and include biographical details, dates, education, awards, roles (if they were performers), and specific works. Publications by and about individuals include books, articles, videos and films. Essays (country overviews, companies, and individual artists) represent at least 11 nationalities. Separate entries cover festivals like "Fringe," movements like "Fusion," and specific seminal works like Appalachian Spring. Entries vary in quality. Most are written by experts (e.g., Preston-Dunlop on Laban), but a few are by freelancers (e.g., the entry on Joyce Trisler traces her works and influence but fails to mention her 1979 death or the struggling company that continues to perform in her name). International Encyclopedia of Dance (CH, Jul'98) mentions Trisler in various entries but lacks a separate entry. There is a helpful chronology of key international events, 1839 to 1997, in the front matter and nationality and subject indexes at the end, but no detailed general index. Terms like "choreutics" and "eukinetics" (both mentioned in the Laban essay) must, one assumes, be defined elsewhere. Paul Van Derveer Love's small but useful Modern Dance Terminology (1953; reprinted, 1997) provides good coverage of terms. Clear black-and-white photographs enhance IDMD, which, despite its omissions, handsomely complements other dance reference works and provides excellent coverage of modern dance. For all collections. E. B. Nibley; American University