Dance and politics

Moving beyond boundaries

By Dana Mills

Dance and politics


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0515-8
  • Pages: 144
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: November 2016
  • BIC Category: PERFORMING ARTS / Dance / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, Humanities / Social & political philosophy, Dance, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Social & political philosophy, Political science & theory, Dance, PHILOSOPHY / Political


This book examines the political power of dance, particularly its transgressive potential. Focusing on readings of dance pioneers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, Gumboots dancers in the gold mines of South Africa, the One Billion Rising movement, dabke in Palestine and dance as a protest against human rights abuse in Israel, the book explores moments in which the form succeeds in transgressing politics as articulated in words. Close readings and critical analysis grounded in radical democratic theory combine to show how interpreting political dance as 'interruption' can unsettle conceptions of both politics and dance.


'Aimed at an audience of political theorists and dance and performance students and scholars, the technical language and critical readings of Jacques Rancière, among others, can make for heavy going for the untutored enthusiast. But as Mills develops the discussion, she moves away from abstract theory and into a series of case studies that start with Isadora Duncan's 1907 Musical Moment. It's at this point that the arguments within Dance and politics begin to intersect and gain clarity.'
Susan Darlington, The Morning Star

'Dance and Politics: Moving Beyond Boundaries offers a fresh and essentially optimistic
exploration of the political dimensions of dance.'
Victoria Thoms, Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University, Dance Review Journal


1 Moving beyond boundaries: writing on the body
2 'I dreamed of a different dance': Isadora Duncan's danced revolution
3 'The body says what words cannot': Martha Graham, dance and politics
4 'I want to tell them how I feel and how black people feel': Gumboots dance in South Africa
5 Dancing the ruptured body: One Billion Rising, dance and gendered violence
6 Dancing human rights
Conclusions: the dancer of the future dancing radical hope


Dana Mills is College Lecturer in Politics at Hertford College, University of Oxford. In 2016-17 she was Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University and Visiting Scholar at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College, New York. Alongside her academic interests she is a dancer and a political activist.

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