Cover image for Choreography and the specific image : nineteen essays and a workbook
Choreography and the specific image : nineteen essays and a workbook
Nagrin, Daniel.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 274 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1588.3 .N34 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The world outside has burst into the studio, writes the influential dancer, teacher and choreographer Daniel Nagrin. Many dancers want passionately to confront concrete, difficult subjects. But their formalistic training hasn't prepared them for what they need to say. This book, the first on choreography approached through content rather than structure, is designed with them in mind.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In the mid-20th century, Nagrin set the standard for male solo performance in modern dance. He brings to his writing the same vitality, directness, wry humor, and dramatic intensity that characterized his long and brilliant performing career, and the diverse and rich insights he shares here will inspire a wide readership. This title continues a discussion Nagrin began in Dance and the Specific Image: Improvisation (CH, Nov'94) and developed further in The Six Questions: Acting Technique for Dance Performance (1997). Organized into 19 essays and a workbook, the present book focuses on the importance of using content--"the specific image"--in choreographic work. Throughout Nagrin emphasizes "the vitality of silence." The book reads well from beginning to end but will also be effective read in sections. Of special interest is the section devoted to Nagrin's longtime personal and professional associate, Helen Tamiris, and her teaching of choreography. Evocative line drawings of Phyllis Steele-Nagrin enliven the text throughout. Students at all levels, teachers of dance composition, and professional dancers will find the book a marvelous source to visit and revisit throughout their careers. In the words of Mark Morris, "It is a thoughtful, funny and very rich source book." C. W. Sherman emerita, College of William and Mary

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
The Essays
1. Helen Tamiris and Her Teaching of Choreographyp. 9
2. A Method of Teaching Choreographyp. 24
3. Choreography and the Specific Imagep. 41
4. Improvisation as a Tool for Choreographyp. 55
5. "Rules" for Choreography in No Particular Orderp. 59
6. The Play of Metaphorp. 76
7. Modern Dance Choreography--Ballet Choreographyp. 90
8. Choreography for the Solo Dancer, Choreography for a Group: The Problems and Differencesp. 95
9. Abstract Dance versus What?p. 99
10. Musicp. 105
11. Words and Song Lyricsp. 115
12. Virtuosityp. 119
13. Directionp. 123
14. The Stage: The Costumes, The Lights, The Sets, The Soundp. 129
15. Choreography for the Theatre, Musical Comedy and Operap. 139
16. Mindsetsp. 158
17. The Criticism of Choreographyp. 165
18. Anecdotal Materialp. 181
19. The Ethics of Aestheticsp. 188
The Workbook: Workbook Introduction and Outlinep. 209
1. Warming Upp. 213
Giftsp. 213
Medicine Ballp. 215
Outrageous Travelp. 216
Goldfish Bowlp. 218
Blind Journeyp. 218
2. The Rhythm Seriesp. 220
Breath Rhythmp. 220
Pulse Rhythmp. 221
Inner Rhythmp. 221
Dedicate Your Motionp. 222
Go Visitingp. 223
True Repetitionp. 224
Evolving Repetitionp. 225
Spinningp. 225
3. Uncovering Sources of Movement: The First Stepsp. 226
Circlesp. 226
Each Alonep. 228
Backdoorp. 230
Hub Meditationp. 231
Visualizationp. 232
Gesture Permutationsp. 233
Gesture Rondop. 234
4. Metaphorp. 236
5. Sense Memory Sourcesp. 237
Facesp. 237
The Obstaclep. 239
Passing through a Physical Objectp. 240
Slalomp. 240
6. Sources of Movement Materialp. 242
The Mind-Washp. 242
Not Namingp. 242
The Otherp. 243
A Duetp. 243
The Duet as a Structurep. 244
7. Finding Gold in "Bad" Habitsp. 250
Cliche Rondop. 250
Your Familiarp. 252
Possessed by a Mannerismp. 253
8. Music Sources of Movementp. 255
Ambient Soundp. 255
Rhythm Circlep. 255
Before, After and Onp. 256
Who or What Is Alive in the Music?p. 257
Riff Cactusp. 257
Using Music for Improvisationp. 258
9. Words and Movementp. 259
Wordsp. 259
Creating Wordsp. 259
Being Created by Wordsp. 259
Becoming Wordsp. 259
Prisonp. 259
Poemsp. 260
10. Morep. 263
Why Do You Dance?p. 263
Props Fantasyp. 263
Inside the Outsidep. 263
Body Contactp. 265
Seeing through the Eyes of Anotherp. 266
I Dare Youp. 267
Notesp. 269
Indexp. 271