By Mary Simonson
Whereas woman performers within the early twentieth century have been on a regular basis marketed as dancers, mimics, singers, or actresses, they wove jointly recommendations and parts drawn from a wide selection of genres and media. Onstage and onscreen, performers borrowed from musical ratings and narratives, spoke of modern indicates, motion pictures, and occasions, and mimicked fellow performers. backstage, they experimented with cross-promotion and new ads options and applied sciences to broadcast pictures and stories in their performances and lives way past the partitions of yankee theaters, cabarets, and halls. The performances and conceptions of paintings that emerged have been leading edge, compelling, and deeply meaningful.
Body Knowledge examines those performances and the performers in the back of them, highlighting the Ziegfeld Follies and The Passing express revues, Salome dancers, Isadora Duncan's Wagner dances, Adeline Genée and Bessie Clayton's danced histories, Hazel Mackaye and Ruth St. Denis's pageants, and Anna Pavlova's opera and picture tasks. As an entire, it re-imagines early twentieth-century artwork and leisure as either fluid and convergent.
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Extra info for Body Knowledge: Performance, Intermediality, and American Entertainment at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
On its surface, the dance seems humorous, a mix of burlesque and slapstick comedy that— like The Salome Craze and The Saloon Dance—simply pokes fun at the dance’s ubiquity, its “mad” amateur performers, and the unfortunate men who get trapped watching. At the same time, though, Mrs. Peck’s “performance” is hardly a joke: spinning and kicking wildly, her movements are clearly purposeful and intentional. Dancing, Peck’s wife is able to embrace and revel, unchallenged, in new levels of physicality and dominance.
Certainly, live performance and performers have always carried a certain magic; certainly, too, the world of possibilities that performance offers us in eschewing traditional ways of reading works, actors, and histories can seem a bit like an enchanted wonderland. Yet I believe that performance—and the various theoretical discourses generated around it in the fields of musicology, performance studies, and dance—offers equally exciting possibilities for revisionary scholarship when positioned in specific contexts.
Peck eventually knocks her husband and his chair over backwards to end the film. On its surface, the dance seems humorous, a mix of burlesque and slapstick comedy that— like The Salome Craze and The Saloon Dance—simply pokes fun at the dance’s ubiquity, its “mad” amateur performers, and the unfortunate men who get trapped watching. At the same time, though, Mrs. Peck’s “performance” is hardly a joke: spinning and kicking wildly, her movements are clearly purposeful and intentional. Dancing, Peck’s wife is able to embrace and revel, unchallenged, in new levels of physicality and dominance.
Body Knowledge: Performance, Intermediality, and American Entertainment at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Mary Simonson