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Volume 1

Dance and Performance Studies

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Dancing At the Crossroads

Memory and Mobility in Ireland

Helena Wulff

184 pages, 4 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-328-2 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (December 2007)

ISBN  978-1-84545-590-3 $27.95/£19.00 Pb Published (December 2008)

eISBN 978-0-85745-434-8 eBook

Hb Pb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Buy the ebook from these vendors


"Wulff does convincing and interesting work in making the argument that all Irish dance is influenced by links to the land and/or notions of Irishness, tradition, authenticity, and collective identity...[that] becomes increasingly complicated given issues of immigration, colonization, diasporic communities, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism."  ·  H-Net Reviews

"There is an admirable reconception of performance, which moves away from the usual tightly bodily based formulas towards an appreciation of storytelling and characterization... These re-thinkings have significant implications for seeing tradition as a resource and/or as a mode of engagement."  ·  JRAI


Dancing at the crossroads used to be young people's opportunity to meet and enjoy themselves on mild summer evenings in the countryside in Ireland until this practice was banned by law, the Public Dance Halls Act in 1935. Now a key metaphor in Irish cultural and political life, "dancing at the crossroads" also crystallizes the argument of this book: Irish dance, from Riverdance (the commercial show) and competitive dancing to dance theatre, conveys that Ireland is to be found in a crossroads situation with a firm base in a distinctly Irish tradition which is also becoming a prominent part of European modernity.

Helena Wulff is Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Her research focusses on expressive cultural forms in a transnational perspective. Studies on the transnational world of dance and social memory have generated questions in relation to place, mobility and emotions, as well as to visual culture and writing. Among her publications are The Emotions: A Cultural Reader (editor, 2007, Berg), Ballet Across Borders: Career and Culture in the World of Dancers (Berg, 1998, reprinted 2001), and Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (edited with Vered Amit-Talai, 1995, Routledge).

Subject: Performance Studies General Anthropology General Mobility Studies
Area: Europe



Chapter 1. Into the Rhythm of the Dance
Chapter 2. Tradition Reinvented
Chapter 3. Memories in Motion
Chapter 4. The Link to the Land
Chapter 5. Storytelling Dance
Chapter 6. Winning the World
Chapter 7. The Riverdance Moment
Chapter 8. Rooted Cosmopolitanism

Afterword: Yo-yo Fieldwork


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