Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review of Melissa Cefkin’s "Choreographing Culture"

Our reading class this month focused on several chapters of Melissa Cefkin’s dissertation, Choreographing Culture: Dance, Folklore, and the Politics of Identity in Turkey. Cefkin examines tensions that the State, the Popular, and the Market produce through their support and vying interests in Turkish folk dance. For example, the State provides funding for research, training, and dance companies, and also constructs national aesthetics and standards by deciding which groups represent Turkey nationally and internationally. The Popular, which Cefkin defines as amateur, regional, local, and perhaps ethnic, works to maintain the integrity of folklore sometimes in contrast to the nationalizing forces of the State. The Market is interested in the display of value of dance. It not only impacts where dance companies will perform, how they are financially supported, but also what version is placed upon the stage. Cefkin’s research is great for those who want to understand how various positions, such as official and private interests, amateur and professional dancers, and authentic and showy formats play out in the politics and identity of Turkish folk dance.
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