chapter  5
13 Pages

Dance works, concepts and historiography

ByAnna Pakes

This chapter focuses on whether long-term dance history can appropriately be told as a history of choreographic works. It also focuses on how the historical character of the dance work-concept itself compromises the viability of this historiographic approach. The 'stabilization of the dance work as an independent conceptual entity during our century, with a relatively fixed form, devised by one acknowledged choreographer and usually one composer' contrasts with 'earlier practice where ballets were highly flexible conceptions that could be edited, added to, or remoulded for different occasions and casts'. Dances which display contra-standard features relative to the categories of their time can inaugurate new categories in which those features become standard. Lincoln Kirstein's construction of an imaginary museum of dance works implies continuity in the way the products of dance practices are conceived across history.