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Publications [#291711] of Thomas F. DeFrantz

Essays, Articles, Chapters in Books

  1. DeFrantz, T, Donald Byrd: Re/Making 'Beauty', in Dance discourses, edited by Franco, S; France, CNDLD (December, 2007), pp. 221-235, Routledge [doi] .
    (last updated on 2022/08/14)

    What are the terms of “beauty” as an action that may be achieved in dance? How do African-American artists approach the performance of “beauty?" In a preliminary consideration of these questions, this paper offers a case-study analysis of two works by choreographer Donald Byrd: The Harlem Nutcracker (1996), a revision of the Petipa-Ivanov ballet set to Duke Ellington’s swing adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s score, and Life Situations: Daydreams on Giselle (1995), a postmodern version of the quintessential Romantic ballet. Working through prisms of feminist and Africanist aesthetic theory, I suggest strategies to critique identity formation within dance performance as a function of aggressive irony, inversion, and the triumph of technical precision. Byrd’s choreography constructs “beauty” as a function of black Atlantic1 performance practice, as an act that may be socially progressive in its intentions, and an action that may hold material consequences for its performers and audiences.

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