In October 1944, the African American choreographer Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) stood in front of an audience in Louisville, Kentucky and announced that she and her dance company would not return to Louisville until the city desegregated its theaters. Word of her brave stance ricocheted across the country, finding its way into a newspaper in Indiana, where a fifteen-year-old boy wrote her an admiring letter saying that she was an inspiration in the fight for racial equality.
On a sticky afternoon in June of 2015 I, with friend and photographer, Matilda Temperley, drove through downtown Las Vegas and into the driveway of the El Cortez Hotel and Casino. The midday sun exposed some rust on the hotel’s neon signage as well as a missing light bulb on the giant red, rotating high healed shoe, which framed an advertisement for $10.95 Prime Rib at the hotel’s diner.
There is an amazing variety of types, styles, and genres of dancing – from street to disco, to folk dancing and ballroom. Some are recent inventions, stemming from social and political changes, whilst others have origins as old as civilisation itself. Do you know your Jive from your Jazz, your Salsa from your Samba? Read on to discover the surprisingly controversial origins of the Waltz, and the dark history of the American Tango.
J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan; or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up has exercised the popular imagination since its first performance in 1904. Yet not everyone is aware of Peter Pan’s stage history or the darker currents that underlie the apparently escapist story of Wendy Darling and her brothers flying away from their nursery to the “Never Land”, a fantasy world of make-believe and adventures with Captain Hook and his pirates.
It has been nearly nine years since I moved to Southern California, after a lifetime in New York City as the adopted daughter and granddaughter of a Harlem-born and raised black family whose “roots” were in Richmond, Virginia (by way of the Middle Passage from, as author Dionne Brand describes it in A Map to the Door of No Return, “the door of no return”). I visit the city a couple of times a year, to check in with loved ones and to do research.
Say what you will about the strong fan base of La La Land and its probable domination of the upcoming Oscars after sweeping so many of the guild awards, not to mention the critical backlash against it that I have seen in the press and among scholars on Facebook, but Damien Chazelle certainly knows the history of the Hollywood film musical!
On his recent visit to England Barack Obama chose to tour Shakespeare’s Globe, on Bankside; and in the last days of his Presidency, interviewed about his reading habits, he spoke touchingly and revealingly of his admiration for Shakespeare’s tragedies, and of what they had taught him. ‘I took this wonderful Shakespeare class in college’, he said, ‘where I just started to read the tragedies and dig into them.
To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we brought you a new theme every month throughout 2016. From Women to Race and from Money to the Supernatural, we delved into complex subjects surrounding his life and works, exploring their relevance for a modern audience. With specially commissioned videos, articles, and interactive content from a host of Shakespearean experts, Illuminating Shakespeare presented the very best Shakespeare resources from across Oxford University Press. Take a look at some of our favourites from this anniversary year…
In 2015 the Alchemy Project delivered a pioneering ‘treatment’ for mental illness. It was modelled on contemporary dance training and was a different way of engaging with people and supporting their recovery. It was based on the work of Dance United and its proven, award-winning methodology. The premise was ambitious: that in just four weeks, participants would go from a place of no experience to a high-end artistic professional dance performance.
We all know the classic Shakespearean lines – “To be or not to be,” “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” or “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” — but how would these famous lines have sounded to Elizabethan audiences? Are we currently misinterpreting the Bard? This question has been on the mind of Shakespeare scholars, directors, actors, and audiences for a long time, and has proved a tricky problem.
We have always known already that Shakespeare was a collaborator; he was a man of the theatre which is an inherently very collaborative, social art. The news is that he also collaborated as a writer much more than we used to think he did. We can now say with a high degree of certainty that upward of third of his plays were co-written in some sense or other. In most film portrayals, Shakespeare seems to produce his plays in isolation.
Most people would assume that, since Gilbert and Sullivan have been so widely renowned for so many years, the availability of satisfactory performance materials for their works would be a given. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When we read Shakespeare’s Complete Works we are primarily, of course, reading Shakespeare. But as a bonus we also get, in the same volume, an excellent anthology of most of the important playwrights who were his collaborators. Shakespeare collaborated for the same reason that most people do: different members of the team are especially good at different tasks.
The recent media furore surrounding the publication of new findings about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works reassures us of one thing: people care about Shakespeare. Or, perhaps better stated, people care about caring about Shakespeare. A momentary venture into the ‘comments’ section to any of these news stories (a risky move at the best of times) reveals at least three camps of commentators.
While it is obvious that Shakespeare drew a tremendous amount of inspiration from Christopher Marlowe (note the effect of The Jew of Malta, Hero and Leander, and Tamburlaine on The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Shakespeare’s history plays, respectively), this kind of borrowing and […]
“Come and put your name on it,” is the first line in Rihanna’s song “Birthday Cake.” She is referring to her female anatomy as she dances in a hip-centered motion, reminiscent of Caribbean movement. Across the globe, reactions to the song’s connotation and the provocative dancing varied greatly, each individual interpreting the sequence of events based on their own experiences, culture, race and gender.