Dance and its relationship to poetry
Very nice review at LOVEREADING
Love Reading’s review of THE STEP IS THE FOOT: DANCE AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO POETRY
This consummately fascinating study into the relationship between dance and poetry – the “step” of dance, and the “foot” of verse – presents a complex, intricate interlacing of disciplines. Dappled with personal anecdotes alongside probing evolutionary questions, historical depth and contemporary insights, it is at once thought-provoking and engaging.
The author’s experience as both a dancer and poet inform his unique investigation. He ascribes his long-held passion for both to a deep-rooted childhood awareness of rhythm: “Rhythm is common to both pursuits. Increasingly I have come to feel that dance is a language and that language is a dance.” I found the “Which Came First?” chapter especially compelling. The author’s exploration of humankind’s transition to bipedalism and language takes in fascinating linguistic and archaeological theories, and links the shift to bipedalism to the development of reflective thought, and to walking as an expressive activity.
Suffused in spirited intellectualism and a global perspective, this is a must-read for anyone interested in poetry, dance and exploring the history of humanity through the lens of the arts.
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My initial enthusiasm was not misplaced. Your book falls into my ideal category of the “unpublishable”. (I have one such in my bottom drawer). What I’m saying is that there is not a single commercial publisher that would touch this book and for this alone it is commendable. I don’t always share your viewpoints, and sometimes not your enthusiasms either. I remember going to see an exhibition of ice age objects at the British Museum and feeling troubled by some of the descriptions saying this or that object was probably used for purposes of performance art. I don’t think one can convincingly apply that label. It is just too modern a notion and carries too much baggage for it to ever feel true for me. Ritual, yes, certainly and of course ritual has its aesthetic. Also I’m afraid I have virtually no sympathy for Freud who falsified so much in order to demonstrate his various theories. Years ago, I began to write about this but found the subject too depressing to be able to continue. The essays on art and literature are absolutely riddled with untruths and I don’t think they were innocently applied.
This said … this said … I think The Step is the Foot is an incredible achievement, full of insight and never less than fascinating; it is also a window into your creative world. Beautifully written, it is revelatory in so many ways that I felt myself continually pushed in one direction and then another. It is provocative in the best sense of the word while at the same time generous in its inclusiveness. I simply loved the section on the threshing floor dance, which can be so easily translated to the tammurriata as performed at the religious festas on the slopes of Vesuvius and which has it origins in Dionysian rites. And your words on the tango are beautifully expressed. A couple of years ago I read an academic book on the history of the tango which, although informative, doesn’t come close to what you manage to say in a few paragraphs. It is, and will remain, one of my “secret” books, and certainly one of the best I’ve read in ages. Once again, thank you for this wonderful and important gift.