Dance and Writing By Franko, Mark
The centrality of dance to aesthetic modernism led to dance becoming a major preoccupation of modernist literature and a model for the generation of the literary text. Concurrently, given the emergence of dance modernism as a performance field, other forms of writing—critical, philosophical, anthropological, and psychoanalytic—emerged to explore the phenomenon of dance as an important part of the contemporary world of art and culture. Dance artists themselves have produced a significant amount of writing and theorization.
The early twentieth century generated a wealth of textual reflections on dance across a range of disciplines. Recognizing the fundamentally interdisciplinary characteristic of dance as reflected in the textual and visual documents of modernism, it is evident that dance is present in texts not appearing to address it directly, such as Marcel Mauss’s “The Notion of Body Techniques” (1935). In other words, to write of dance is not always to write about dance—dance movement, for instance, played an important role in modernist visual practices of abstraction. As a result, dance writing is not a distinct genre.