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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Dancing Modernism: Ritual, Ecstasy and the Female Body
Author(s): Anderson, Elizabeth
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Keywords: Isadora Duncan
Hilda Doolittle
modern dance
Jane Harrison
Issue Date: Sep-2008
Date Deposited: 6-Jan-2014
Citation: Anderson E (2008) Dancing Modernism: Ritual, Ecstasy and the Female Body. Literature and Theology, 22 (3), pp. 354-67.
Abstract: This article considers the intersection of ritual, dance and embodiment inthe work of Isadora Duncan and H.D. I argue that dance lends itself toexplorations of gender and embodiment in modernism and that thesignificance of the body is especially problematic for the female dancer.Modernist writing about dance tends to erase the body of the dancer,presenting her as a disembodied ideal. However, analysis of IsadoraDuncan's work reveals a contradictory movement towards an understandingof dance as a bodily grounded art form. The article then traces the role ofritual and the Dionysian ecstasy in their work and their differing treatmentsof embodiment and sexuality. Jane Harrison's work on the connectionbetween art and ritual illuminates the connection between the moving bodyand ecstatic ritual for H.D. and Duncan. In ‘The Dancer', H.D. explores aconnection between the desiring body, creativity and spirituality that formsthe centre of her poetics. She is preoccupied with dance as a fusion betweeneroticism and ritual. For H.D., art and spirituality are rooted in the eroticbody. Finally, I suggest that the nexus of ritual, ecstasy and embodimentproves to be a creative source for a number of other modernist writers.
DOI Link: 10.1093/litthe/frn024
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