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Body KnowledgePerformance, Intermediality, and American Entertainment at the Turn of the Twentieth Century$
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Mary Simonson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199898015

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199898015.001.0001

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Moving Images: Adeline Genée and Bessie Clayton’s Danced Histories

Moving Images: Adeline Genée and Bessie Clayton’s Danced Histories

(p.134) 5 Moving Images: Adeline Genée and Bessie Clayton’s Danced Histories
Body Knowledge

Mary Simonson

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the American performances of dancers Bessie Clayton and Adeline Genée, specifically Clayton’s Dances of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, and Genée’s La Danse. Both of these pieces constructed and represented dance histories: Clayton traced the history of popular dance styles in a series of episodes, while Genée charted the evolution of ballet technique through danced portraits of a various ballerinas. Both of these dances, this chapter argues, integrated the representational strategies and aesthetics associated with the mediums of photography and early moving pictures. Onstage, Clayton and Genée’s bodies became “cameras” of sorts, creating, recording, and displaying the past while simultaneously bringing it to life. In doing so, both women interrogated the performative possibilities and pitfalls of these new technologies and practices of representation. Considering the performances in this way adds a new dimension to existing scholarship on dance films.

Keywords:   Adeline Genée, Bessie Clayton, La Danse, ballet, representations of dance history, photography, early moving pictures, dance film

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