cover image Through the Eyes of a Dancer: Selected Writings

Through the Eyes of a Dancer: Selected Writings

Wendy Perron. Wesleyan Univ., $29.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7407-7

Former dancer and choreographer Perron’s pleasurably idiosyncratic approach to dance criticism is on display in this selection spanning the ’60s to the present from sources like SoHo Weekly News, Village Voice, and Dance Magazine. Perron takes readers into the avant-garde ‘’70s with Barbara Lloyd and the improvisation group Grand Union; a 1996 concert featuring “dancers near or over the age of sixty”; and an unlikely collaboration between Mikhail Baryshnikov and the experimental choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer. Perron writes of her education at the Joffrey School and recalls working with Kenneth King and lifelong friend Sara Rudner. Writing about Martha Graham’s “theatrical fury,” Perron wonders of today’s talent, “what female choreographer will bring us that kind of vehemence?” She weighs in on the Japanese style of Butoh with important questions about cultural appropriation, and, in a sobering essay, discusses how the 1980s AIDS epidemic affected the dance community and how HIV-positive dancers are coping today. On a controversial note, Perron talks to ballerina Sarah Lane, Natalie Portman’s snubbed body double from the film Black Swan. In addition to dance, Perron covers street performers, Susan Sontag’s critical theory, and about spending time with J.D Salinger. Perron’s reviews describe the actions of performances so completely you will feel that you are witnessing them first-hand. (Nov.)