Personalizing Dance History for Tweens and Teens

Personalizing Dance History for Tweens and Teens

An Interview with Author, Anne Dunkin, Ph.D. by Brenda Pugh McCutchen February 20, 2016   Here is an interview with Anne Dunkin about her dance history book, How They Became Famous Dancers: A Dancing History (2015). It is a satisfying read for anyone who loves dance. The book, a dance history resource, tells how twelve dancers leave a lasting impact on dance. After reading it I asked her to share her process and tell how her research brought dance history to life for today’s readers. The book makes it obvious that Dunkin loves dance and dance history, loves teaching, and also relishes research as a discovery process.              Although Dunkin does not mention this, please allow me this observation. Think about dance as the shortest-lived of all the arts, existing only at the moment of performance. Then think about dance history as the most elusive discipline within dance. Why? There is no movement footage of centuries of celebrated performers, choreographers, and their dance works. All we have are word descriptions and notations which leave clues, dots to join together. Because of no tangible arts works from gifted creators of centuries past, dance seems to lack a heritage or history. Because ground-breaking dances of the past cannot be reproduced or reconstructed, dance education can neither compare nor contrast the performances and choreographic work of ancient cultures with those of today, like other arts disciplines take for granted. Imagine if we could not hear any of the symphonies of famous 17th century composers but could only read about them? What if we only had outlines of Shakespeare’s plays instead of the scripts...