Dancing on the Fault Lines of History

Selected Essays

Subjects: Dance, Theater and Performance
Open Access : 9780472904846, 336 pages, 30 illustrations, 6 x 9, January 2025
Paperback : 9780472054374, 336 pages, 30 illustrations, 6 x 9, January 2025
Hardcover : 9780472074372, 336 pages, 30 illustrations, 6 x 9, January 2025
See expanded detail +

Encapsulating a career of studying modern dance

Table of contents

I. Writing and Rewriting Modern Dance History
II. Keywords: Gender and Sexuality 
1. The Female Dancer and the Male Gaze
2. Looking from a Different Place
3. Choreographing the Classics, Performing Sexual Dissidence
4. Archives in Collision: Excursus on Method
III. Keywords: Whiteness and Blackness      
5. Black Voices, White Bodies: Tamiris’ How Long, Brethren?
6. Watching Dunham’s Dances 1937-1945
7. Reggie Wilson and the Making of Moses(es)
8. Cross-Viewing in Berlin and Chicago: Nelisiwe Xaba’s Fremde Tänze
IV. Keywords: Nationality and Globalization          
9. An American Perspective on Tanztheater
10. Ausdruckstanz across the Atlantic
11. Nation and World in Modern Dance
12. Mary Wigman and Asia: Between Cultural Appropriation and Transnational Encounter


Dancing on the Fault Lines of History collects essential essays by Susan Manning, one of the founders of critical dance studies, recounting her career writing and rewriting the history of modern dance. Three sets of keywords—gender and sexuality, whiteness and Blackness, nationality and globalization—illuminate modern dance histories from multiple angles, coming together in varied combinations, shifting positions from foreground to background. Among the many artists discussed are Isadora Duncan, Vaslav Nijinsky, Ted Shawn, Helen Tamiris, Katherine Dunham, José Limón, Pina Bausch, Reggie Wilson, and Nelisiwe Xaba. Calling for a comparative and transnational historiography, Manning ends with an extended case study of Mary Wigman’s multidimensional exchange with artists from Indonesia, India, China, Korea, and Japan. 
Like the artists at the center of her research, Manning’s writing dances on the fault lines of history. Her introduction and annotations to the essays reflect on how and why these keywords became central to her research, revealing the autobiographical resonances of her scholarship as she confronts the cultural politics of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Susan Manning is Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University.

“An intellectual history of the evolution of the field of dance studies by a seminal scholar whose concerns and interventions have played an important role in the development of the field and continued debates. . . . An excellent reference and easy-to-teach volume, including two never-before-published essays exciting in their critical methodologies and serving to advance the nascent field of transnational dance studies.”

- Rebekah Kowal, University of Iowa

Dancing on the Fault Lines of History is a primer on how to do dance history, a rare text as concerned with methods as with content, and with critiquing as well as celebrating the assumptions underlying the emergence of dance studies as a field of inquiry. The ‘keywords’ structure is compelling and highlights the interdisciplinarity of the field and its contributions to larger conversations across the humanities.”

- Ariel Nereson, University of Buffalo—SUNY