Cover image for A century of dance
A century of dance
Driver, Ian.
Personal Author:
First Cooper Square Press edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Cooper Square Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 28 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1619 .D759 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
GV1619 .D759 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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From ballroom dancing to breakdancing, this book offers an intimate, engaging exploration of dance.

Author Notes

Ian Driver has written extensively on the performing arts. His other books include London Traditions. He lives in London, England.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Featuring a colorful if lightweight survey of the last 100 years of social dance, Driver, a London-based arts writer, describes how an era is reflected in its social dancesÄbecause dance is interwoven into ordinary people's daily lives as "social ritual, leisure activity, entertainment." Driver credits technological advancesÄrecords, television and moviesÄwith changing dance styles and fueling fads nationwide. Beginning with the turn-of-the-century waltz, which, he says, "ruled the dancehalls" at the time, (and the first social dance to turn dancing couples face-to-face), Driver traces how popular music and contemporary style melded into dances mirroring the social changes of the century. Ragtime, vaudeville, tap, Broadway, rock 'n' roll, the disco-hustle craze and the Latin American influence (spread by Xavier Cugat and Ricky Martin, among others) are brought to life with 360 energetic color and b&w photographs of performers and dance posters, eye-catching sidebars ("The Great Dance Bands," "Bob Fosse") and other graphics. On the other hand, the author's commentary is fairly superficial (Savion Glover's mother realized early on that "he had an unusually advanced sense of rhythm"), and Driver's accuracy is sometimes suspect (he incorrectly places Madonna dancing "briefly" with the Paul Taylor Company). From the turkey trot to hip-hop, this volume gives a vivid visual record of all the century's dance crazes. (Jan. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The century just ended will be known for innovations in technology, transportation, and, if this book is any indication, dance. As both entertainment and social activity, dance gets top billing in this colorful production, bursting with photographs and publicity stills. Driver (Traditions of London) tells the story of popular dance on and off the stage and screen, describing the dancers, choreographers, dances, and fads that glided, slid, hopped, stomped, jumped, tapped, tangoed, and boogied through the last 100 years. Each of the ten chapters surveys a decade of dance, from the origins of the waltz at the turn of the century, to the ragtime era, to Broadway and Hollywood of the Forties, to today's hip hop, techno, rave, and club cultures. The layout is carefully choreographed with a text punctuated by images of dance and dancers that almost jump off the page. The book features a glossary of dance terms, a general index, and an index of people. Especially recommended for performing arts and popular culture collections, as well as for the coffee tables of dance lovers everywhere. Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Introduction     Historically dance has always been important in the lives of ordinary people. Folk dance goes back, like folk music, to earliest times. From the start it had connotations as social ritual in fertility rites, religious ceremony and most importantly mating rituals. And even more sophisticated, stylized forms of dance in the courts of kings and nobles, rich in etiquette and mannerism, functioned as a meeting point and courting ground for members of the opposite sex. When Jerome Robbins choreographed the dance in the gym in West Side Story , the boy-girl tension was not a million years away from the masked ball in Romeo and Juliet upon which it was based.     But while the function of dance has remained broadly the same, what has been notable over the past hundred years has been the promotion and accessibility of dance, driven as most things in the twentieth century by technological change.     The first of these innovations was on the domestic front in the form of the gramophone record. People could listen to all kinds of music in their own homes, and much of this happened to be dance music. Waltzes, foxtrots, fashionable dances like the tango and Charleston, were all available for private consumption, encouraging dancing as a social activity outside the home, in dancehalls and ballrooms, and more recently discos and clubs.     Likewise the rapid spread of radio during the 1920s further exposed people to dance music of all kinds. The huge popularity of the big bands, whose music was designed to be danced to, not simply listened to, just would not have happened were it not for records and radio. And the same could certainly be said for rock and roll and popular music since.     The other great medium of mass communication in the first half of the twentieth century was the cinema. When sound came to the silver screen in the late 20s, the film musical was born, and with it a whole new era of dance as spectator entertainment. Although many Hollywood musicals were based on hit Broadway shows, they now had audiences of literally millions worldwide and, loosened from the restrictions of stage choreography, a whole new dance genre evolved. By the mid 1930s Fred Astaire, Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers and Jack Buchanan were household names; Busby Berkeley revolutionized the cinematic dance set piece with extraordinary spectaculars; and in the 50s Gene Kelly took modern dance to new heights in films like Anchors Aweigh, An American In Paris and the seminal Singin' In The Rain .     While cinema widened the scope of dance, and offered an (albeit kitsch) view of more exotic forms from around the world (the Carmen Miranda version of Latin American springs to mind) the other great influence -- again, as with music -- was that of African-American culture. From ragtime and tap dance (with its curious ancestry that includes African elements and Lancashire clog dancing) through jive to hip-hop, and the further flung dance forms of Cuba, Central and South America, all have made their mark on popular dance around the world over the last century.     Even in the twenty-first century of electronic information and digital technology, the role of dance has not diminished. Dance based hit musicals come and go--a recent sell-out everywhere was Fosse, the celebration of the work of Bob Fosse, the ever-burgeoning club scene is completely dance-based, pop acts thrive on dance routines, competition ballroom dancing is now a worldwide phenomenon, and the great Hollywood musicals are now set-in-aspic classics of modern popular culture.     Althrough Isadora Duncan and others have attempted to express themselves through unaccompanied movement, dance can usually be defined as movement to music, and in this has reflected the huge proliferation of all kinds of popular music over the past hundred years. Dance has enabled people to participate in music to an unprecedented degree, be it in the ballrooms of a bygone era or in the ubiquitous club culture of the present day. Copyright © 2000 Octopus Publishing Group Limited. All rights reserved.