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Reflective practice has the capability to facilitate deeper experiential understanding to enhance performance. It can release the dancer from the traditional ‘watch and repeat’ mode of dance training. Reflective practice and experiential learning is the crux of the process utilized in the Functional Awareness®: Anatomy in Action approach to somatic movement training.
In many forms of dance the breath support for movement is not an integral part of training. It is not perceived to be important in the same manner that stretching, strengthening, and balance warrant focus. Little coaching and training time addresses breath support in most Western dance forms. We propose breath support is at the heart of expressivity and artistry in movement phrasing.
Bob Dylan does not want us to know who he is. He recently turned seventy, and if no one has figured him out by now, nobody probably ever will. The Andy Warhol Factory’s Screen Test of Bob Dylan, filmed in 1965 attempts to get close to him, figure out what is underneath the voice and lyrics. He sits impatiently, looking down most of the time, unsmiling. He could be anyone, which is really the point of being Bob Dylan. As David Yaffe points out in Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, the screen test demonstrates that “[b]eing Bob Dylan has apparently already gotten old.”
Yaffe does not set out to find Bob Dylan’s core, but instead gives us a series of portraits that peel back enough layers to understand what the various cores look like. One of these layers is Dylan through the medium of film, which includes numerous documentaries and an appearance singing in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. (The oddness of the commercial diminishes—slightly—after reading this report which claims that in the same year he made Andy Warhol’s film, Dylan said “ladies’ undergarments” might be the only thing that would entice him to sell out.) Even in the cases where the singer was not directly involved in a movie, he still used the production to further complicate his image.
He wrote, directed, and starred in his own a movie, which still has no official video or DVD release because the four-hour-long Renaldo and Clara was, as Joan Baez called it, “a giant mess of a home movie. What makes it worthwhile to Yaffe is that Dylan appeared as another self-constructed version of himself, even if the rest was a surrealist disaster. Documentary makers have tried to show that in film, as in concert, the musician “had a black self, a symbolist poet self, an outlaws self, a misogynistic matinee idol self.” More recently, he gave full reign to the director of I’m Not There, allowing a wide assortment of actors, including a woman and an African American, to add new representation to both his real-life and onscreen character. He is as much one person’s reaction to him as he is all the faces he has willingly presented to his fans.
It’s the 70th birthday of Bob Dylan, once known as Robert Allen Zimmerman, and as part of our Icons of America series, David Yaffe, a music critic and professor of English at Syracuse University, has uniquely written about the musician in Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown. The subtitle may seem paradoxical for such a ubiquitous persona, but as Yaffe observes:
He exists on stage and in our dreams, our fantasies, our real and concocted histories, our colleges, our state fairs, and our concert halls at the same time. He exists as history, and yet he lives, walking into that dark, foggy unknown.
In the book, Yaffe explores Dylan’s complicated relationship to blackness (including his involvement in the civil rights movement and a secret marriage with a black backup singer), the underrated influence of his singing style, his fascinating image in films, and his controversial songwriting methods that have led to charges of plagiarism. These are the makings of Dylan’s iconic status, as part of the American postwar culture that continues to fascinate contemporaries as well as new generations of fans: in 2009, Dylan’s new album Together Through Life debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, and you can count on his concerts to fill their venues with scores of people, young and old. Check out today’s article on The Daily Beast, where Yaffe has written on Dylan’s legacy and the peculiarities and controversies that have made him such an important and lasting figure in music and pop culture.
100 years ago today, Austrian composer Gustav Mahler died, after a tumultuous life and marriage and a rise to success between Vienna and New York. This summer, we’re publishing the bestselling biography Gustav Mahler, by Jens Malte Fischer, translated by Stewart Spencer. Fischer explores Mahler's early life, his relationship to literature, his achievements as a conductor, his unhappy marriage, and his work with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic in his later years. He also illustrates why Mahler is a prime example of artistic idealism worn down by Austrian anti-Semitism and American commercialism.
Fischer has written about his first experiences with Mahler’s music; you can more about it on the Yale Books London blog.
When I noted previously that I’m a fan of British Hispanists, I left out Hugh Thomas’s narratives of Spanish history, and he has published many. Notably from YUP, The Beaumarchais in Seville tells the story of the French Revolutionary Pierre Beaumarchais and his travels to Madrid, 1764-65 (he never actually went to Seville). He’s best known for the Figaro plays that inspired operas by composers like Mozart and Rossini, and Thomas sets out to explore 18th-century Spain and the inspirations behind Beaumarchais’s work. On his travels, Beaumarchais encountered a wide cast of characters—royalty, military officers, clergy, journalists, actors, and their wives—and Thomas has brought these stories together from the letters and commentary that survive, translating them into English for the first time.
Nearly a century later another Frenchman, Théophile Gautier was similarly captivated by the land across the Pyrenees, and like Beaumarchais, he wrote one of his greatest poetic works, España, upon his return. New from our Margellos World Republic of Letters series, Norman R. Shapiro has beautifully translated Gautier’s poetry in a new volume, Selected Lyrics. The book includes the entirety of Émaux et Camées (Enamels and Cameos), which Gautier wrote while later traveling the Middle East, and is considered to be the crowning achievement of his poetic career. But because I can and it's a country I love, I’m posting a poem from what Shapiro calls “the vigorously exotic España, a blend of both Romantic local color and Parnassian visuality” to bring to us the vision of Seville that Beaumarchais never saw.
Ivan Lett is Online Marketing Coordinator for Yale University Press.
Leaving behind Seville’s fair company,
One gazes back over the Guadalquivir
In wistful wise, and he sees looming there
Belfries’ and domes’ forest-like panoply.
With each wheel’s turning, new peaks rise. First, he
No image of prerevolutionary Russian Jewish life is more iconic than the fiddler on the roof. But in the half century before 1917, Jewish musicians were actually descending from their shtetl roofs and streaming in dazzling numbers to Russia’s new classical conservatories. At a time of both rising anti-Semitism and burgeoning Jewish nationalism, how and why did Russian music become the gateway to Jewish modernity in music? Drawing on previously unavailable archives, The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire, by James Loeffler, offers an insightful new perspective on the emergence of Russian Jewish culture and identity.
This Thursday, March 24, Loeffler will be reading excerpts from his book at the YIVO Institute Center for Jewish History. The talk will be complemented by musical examples performed by participants from the Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert Series, with a book signing and reception to follow. Admission is free and open to the public.
What if this were a Leap Year? Anyone with a birthday on February 29 would tell you that it hangs in there somewhere every year, even without a date on the calendar. Black History Month would have an extra day and Women’s History Month would have to wait. Instead, we’ll let Pearl Primus, dancer extraordinaire, leap across the gap for us. Later this spring, we’ll be publishing The Dance That Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus, written by Peggy and Murray Schwartz, who were friends and colleagues with access to conduct more than a hundred interviews with family, friends, and fellow artists about Primus. Offering an intimate perspective on her life and exploring her influences on American culture, dance, and education, the Schwartzes trace Primus's path from her childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad, through her rise as an influential international dancer, an early member of the New Dance Group (whose motto was "Dance is a weapon"), and a pioneer in dance anthropology.
Primus traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, and Africa, and she played an important role in presenting authentic African dance to American audiences. She engendered controversy in both her private and professional lives, marrying a white Jewish man during a time of segregation and challenging black intellectuals who opposed the "primitive" in her choreography.
As part of the 92nd Street Y’s Fridays at Noon program, the Schwartzes will appear on April 29, 2011 to celebrate the publication of their book, and, along with special guests, to honor Pearl Primus with performances of three of her solos. Mark your calendar now for the special occasion.
If you’ve been missing all the buzz, be sure to check out the year-end giveaway at “Muphoric Sounds,” including our newly published, Anthology of Rap, which makes an excellent holiday gift for any music aficionado. The contest will stay open until Thursday, December 23, so enter and grab a gift for your favorite poetry fan while there is still time.
Meanwhile, if you need another fix of Anthology news, be sure to check out the interview (just a teaser) with Common, Kurtis Blow, and the Anthology editors, Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois, tonight on PBS’s Newshour.
If you’ve been missing the buzz about Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois’ new Anthology of Rap, there’s a chance to catch them on the East Coast at DC’s Lincoln Theater on Tuesday, November 16 and in New York on Wednesday, November 17 at the 92nd Street Y-Tribeca.
The editors’ entourage at each venue includes Common and Kurtis Blow in DC and Touré, Grandmaster Caz, and LaTasha Diggs in New York, to name a few. Be sure to grab a ticket while they’re still available.
Is this awesome or what? The long-awaited trailer for The Anthology of Rap, edited by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois, is finally here. By bringing together more than three hundred lyrics written over thirty years, from the “old school” to the “golden age” to the present day, the book doubles as both a fan’s guide and a resource for the uninitiated.
Check out the trailer and more updates will continue to flow as the book's November 9 publication date approaches!
This month, the music world
celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of its most
intriguing, mysterious, and undeniably talented figures, Robert Schumann. Yet
for many, Schumann’s legacy of greatness is clouded by the oft-propagated
legends of his crippling depression and mania.
For generations, any interest
in the life and death of Robert Schumann focused on his sadness, bouts of
schizophrenia, and tragically premature death. Tales of his madness have long
been a part of music’s history. Even the popular show, Seinfeld, took its turn, recanting an old myth that a single note
stuck in Schumann’s head drove him to madness.
History is, however, beginning
to reveal that Robert Schumann was a much more substantial figure than his legend
as a tortured musician leads us to believe.
John Worthen’s biography, Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a
Musiciansheds new light on the Schumann that history has forgotten.
Worthen’s research shows that Schumann was a determined musician whose
intellect, wit and drive helped him overcome a life filled with personal and
professional setbacks. This new perspective defines Schumann as a gifted and
resolute figure, rather than speculating on the severity of his mental illness.
Maybe now, on what would have
been Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday, it is finally time to
reassess the life and legend of one of the greatest composers of his era. And the
new angle that John Worthen offers is a great place to start.
Virginia Grise’s bluis the winner of the 2010 Yale Drama Series competition.In honor of her achievement, Grise will receive $10,000 from the
David C. Horn Foundation, and her play will be published by Yale University Press and performed as a staged reading at the Yale Repertory Theatre.
The story of a Mexican American
family's response to the loss of their oldest son in Iraq, bluwas selected from among 960 submissions by contest judge David Hare. It is the second consecutive prize to be awarded to a woman, following Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Lidless in 2009. As the New York Times reported today, Hare noted that, "Of the 12 plays on this year’s shortlist, nine were written by women."
a native of San
Antonio, is a Chicana cultural worker, writer, performer,
and teacher. Hare—whose many works for
stage and screen include Plenty,
Amy’s View, Stuff Happens, The Blue Room, The Vertical Hour, The Reader, and The Hours—has served as judge of the
competition for the past two years.
For more information about the Yale Drama Series and to view past winners, visit its homepag
Not only did Joseph's photograph maintain the inexplicable mirroring and black-and-white color scheme of Ms. McCain's fateful snapshot; it also features a choice title from YUP's backlist, Bernard Williams's On Opera. The fact that Joseph's library contains Williams's award-winning volume shows he's a man of great taste and intellect, and we're confident that Arthur Danto's Andy Warhol will fit right in on his shelves.
Thanks to all who entered, and enjoy your free book, Joseph!
"Some people make history; others make history interesting." So begins a two-page spread in the October issue of Dramatics Magazine featuring two recent highlights from Yale's drama list, Marc Robinson's The American Play and Robert Brustein's The Tainted Muse. Produced by the Educational Theatre Association and oriented toward practitioners in the field of performing arts, Dramatics brings an informed perspective to the analysis of Robinson's survey and Brustein's original re-interpretation of Shakespeare.
The lede in question refers to Robinson's book, a wide-ranging history of American theatre that places dramatic works in context of the societies that both produced and responded to them. In his effort to "make history entertaining," Robinson draws upon early American works from Royall Tyler and William Dunlap as well as contemporary plays by David Mamet and Edward Albee, never losing sight of the subtle details that marked the changes in staging and dramatic style through the centuries.
Brustein's study of Shakespeare's racial, gender, and sexual prejudices, The Tainted Muse, earns equally high marks for its ability to draw contemporary connections from the Bard's world to ours. The Dramatics reviewer wonders how Shakespeare would respond to today's debates over racism and homophobia and notes in Brustein's words that, "Only when the world is totally free of prejudice will we have the right to make fundamental judgments on Shakespeare's."
To read excerpts from both books and to discover more works on theatre, visit the Press's online Performing Arts catalog.
This year marks the centenary year of the state of Oklahoma. So, Tim Carter, author of Oklahoma!: The Making of an American Musical, is speaking today in a lecture at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. This "informative, entertaining, and topical tribute to Oklahoma (state and musical)" is part of the Met's "The Sound of Broadway" series. Also, keep on the lookout for Bud Elder's interview with Carter on WKY Radio, Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma! premiered on Broadway in 1943 under the auspices of the Theatre Guild, and today it is performed more frequently than any other Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. In this book Tim Carter offers the first fully documented history of the making of this celebrated American musical.
Drawing on research from rare theater archives, manuscripts, journalism, and other sources, Carter records every step in the development of Oklahoma! The book is filled with rich and fascinating details about how Rodgers and Hammerstein first came together, the casting process, how Agnes de Mille became the show’s choreographer, and the drafts and revisions that ultimately gave the musical its final shape. Carter also shows the lofty aspirations of both the creators and producers and the mythmaking that surrounded Oklahoma! from its very inception, and demonstrates just what made it part of its times.
Especially in these winter months, it's hard to imagine a world without "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and other classic Frank Loesser tunes. Mark Steyn, reviewing Thomas L. Riis'Frank Loesser for the Wall Street Journal, realizes that "a world without Frank Loesser and 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' would be very cold indeed." Steyn calls Frank Loesser by Yale Press author Thomas L. Riis "a solid overview of an underappreciated talent." Steyn not only praises this "invaluable" book, but also Yale University Press as a whole for the "important and valuable Broadway Masters series of musicological studies." You can read the entire review here.
Frank Loesser, most famous for composing the ever-popular musical Guys and Dolls (1950), also wrote the music and lyrics for the Pulitzer prize-winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and other hits. This book is the first to bring the full story of Loesser’s life and creative achievement in Hollywood and on Broadway into the light.
Elsewhere in the Wall Street Journal, Max Holland listed the "Five Best" books on untangling the rise of conspiracy theories. Number 2 was Yale Press' Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America by Robert Alan Goldberg, which Holland called "unrivaled" for books published within the past decade. You can see Holland's entire list here.
In this enthralling book Robert Goldberg focuses on conspiracy theories in post-World War II America, examining how they became popular and why they remain so. He investigates conspiracy theories surrounding the Roswell UFO incident, the Communist threat, the rise of the Antichrist, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Jewish plot against black America. Those who suspect conspiracies are not confined to the lunatic fringe, Goldberg shows. In fact, paranoid rhetoric and thinking are disturbingly widespread and have become an integral part of American political culture.
Latin America, home to half-a-billion people, the world's largest reserves of arable land, and 8.5 percent of global oil, is in the midst of a vast transformation. Michael Reid, a journalist with many years of experience in the region, explores Latin America's current shift to the political left, its struggle to compete economically, and the potential for democracy to flourish there.
In the March 12th issue of The New Republic, Noam Scheiber writes of the effect of Richard Thaler's economic theories on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Scheiber writes, "Thaler is revered by the leading wonks on Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Though he has no formal role, Thaler presides as a kind of in-house intellectual guru, consulting regularly with Obama's top economic adviser." Thaler and Cass Sunstein recently wrote Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Read more about Thaler's influence on Obama here.
Elsewhere in that same issue of The New Republic, Stephen Greenblatt discusses the yikhes--"status or honor" in Yiddish--of playwright Jacob Gordin. Greenblatt positively reviews The Jewish King Lear: A Comedy in America, saying that "the late Ruth Gay's fine and lively translation of Gordin's most famous play, along with the richly informative accompanying biographical and interpretative essays by Gay and Sophie Glazer, enable readers without Yiddish to understand what stirred Gordin's original audience so deeply." Read the entire review here.
As reported in this morning's New York Times, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s Lidless is the winner of this year's Yale Drama Series contest. David Hare—whose many works for stage and screen include Plenty, Amy’s View, Stuff Happens, The Blue Room, The Vertical Hour, The Reader, and The Hours—served as judge for this year’s competition and selected Cowhig's work among 650 entries.
Cowhig’s play, which concerns the meeting of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and his female U.S. Army interrogator 15 years after his detention, will be performed as a staged reading by the Yale Repertory Theatre and will be published by the Press later this year. Cowhig is a graduate of Brown University and International School of Beijing, and will receive her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in Austin this May.
Click here for more information about the Yale Drama Series.
Over the past weekend, amateur and professional dancers gathered in Chicago to participate in the 2009 Astaire Awards Championships, an annual competition serves not only to show off the nation’s dancing prowess, but also to pay homage to a patron saint of the sport. In his recent book, Fred Astaire, Joseph Epstein analyzes the life and lasting impact of a man “who transformed entertainment into art and gave America a new yet enduring standard for style.” The book, which will be re-released this September in paperback, was selected as one of the top five books of 2008 by the Chicago Tribune.
For those eagerly anticipating its release, we recommend listening to Epstein’s appearance on On Point with Tom Ashbrook. While there, you can view clips of Astaire’s dazzling dance performances like this one below.
Yesterday, legendary guitarist and inventor Les Paul passed away at the age of 94. Paul's innovations, including multi-track recording and the Gibson electric guitar that bears his name, forever changed the landscape of popular music. The guitarist's own compositions, ranging from lilting country ballads to frenetic flat-picking hootenannies to sentimental jazz pieces, highlighted not only his electronic wizardry but also his incomparable musician's touch.
In 2008, Paul lent his insights to a collection of essays by contemporary guitar players entitled State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words. Featuring more than sixty intimate black-and-white portraits of guitar masters playing their instruments, State of the Axe taps into the feeling of true joy from creating music that Paul relished so notably over more than 60 years of performing.
For a sample of Paul's pioneering work with his then-wife Mary Ford, click on the video below.