Cover for NEEDHAM: I See America Dancing: Selected Readings, 1685-2000. Click for larger image

I See America Dancing

Selected Readings, 1685-2000
Awards and Recognition:

A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2003.

Representing dancers, scholars, admirers, and critics, I See America Dancing is a diverse collection of primary documents and articles about the place and shape of dance in the United States from colonial times to the present. This volume offers a lively counterpoint between observers of the dance and dancers' views of what they do when they dance. Dance traditions represented include the Native American pow-wow; tribal music and dance activities on Sunday afternoons in New Orlean's Congo Square; the colonial Playford Balls and their modern offspring, country line dancing; and the Buddhist-inspired Japanese Bon dances in Hawaii. Anti-dance perspectives include government injunctions against Native American dancing and essays from a range of speakers who have declared the waltz, the twist, or the senior prom to be a careless quick-step away from hell or the brothel. I See America Dancing examines the styles that have marked theatrical dance in America, from French ballet to minstrel shows, and presents the views of influential dancers, choreographers, and the pioneers of early modern dance in America. Specific pieces examined include George Ballanchine's ballet Stars and Stripes, Yvonne Rainer's protest piece "Flag Dance, 1970," and Sonjé Mayo's "Naked in America." Covering historical social attitudes toward the dance as well as the performers and their works, I See America Dancing is a comprehensive, scholarly sourcebook that captures the energy and passion of this vital artform.


"Maureen Needham has judiciously selected a collection of original writings that testify to the richness, breadth, and scope of U.S. dance heritage. This book is a must for understanding the artistic and cultural ebbs and flows of U.S. dance history."--Emma Lewis Thomas, professor emerita of dance history and former associate dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture, University of California, Los Angeles

"This is a valuable collection of writings, some of which the young dance historian might not think to consult."--Selma Jeanne Cohen, founding editor of the International Encyclopedia of Dance


Maureen Needham is an associate professor of dance history at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University.

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