Auto/body/graphy and the black dancing body

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Escobar, Ninoska M'bewe

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This thesis considers how the Black dancing body constitutes both Black history and dance history by reading the body in Pearl Primus' Hard time blues, The Negro speaks of rivers and Strange fruit as physical auto/biography, or what I shall herein refer to as auto/body/graphy. The Black dancing body, because it is a repository of the Black experience, actively engages in the act of self-naming, self-shaping, and self-recognition. As such, it may be considered an auto/body/graphy that is situated in Black history, an instrument through which histories of origin and migration, struggle against oppression and colonialization, and the forging of identities and self-definition are inscribed and communicated. This thesis examines Primus' early choreographies as a discourse through which to consider the impact of Black cultural consciousness and the emergence of a Black aesthetic and Black corpo-reality in dance and theatre on the development of American modern dance before mid-century, and upon later choreographers who followed Primus.



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