Donald byrd: Re/making “beauty”

Book Section

What are the terms of “beauty” as an action that may be achieved in dance? How do African-American artists approach the performance of “beauty?" In a preliminary consideration of these questions, this paper offers a case-study analysis of two works by choreographer Donald Byrd: The Harlem Nutcracker (1996), a revision of the Petipa-Ivanov ballet set to Duke Ellington’s swing adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s score, and Life Situations: Daydreams on Giselle (1995), a postmodern version of the quintessential Romantic ballet. Working through prisms of feminist and Africanist aesthetic theory, I suggest strategies to critique identity formation within dance performance as a function of aggressive irony, inversion, and the triumph of technical precision. Byrd’s choreography constructs “beauty” as a function of black Atlantic1 performance practice, as an act that may be socially progressive in its intentions, and an action that may hold material consequences for its performers and audiences.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • DeFrantz, TF

Published Date

  • January 1, 2016

Book Title

  • Dance Discourses: Keywords in Dance Research

Start / End Page

  • 221 - 235

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780415423090

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4324/9781315539171-24

Citation Source

  • Scopus