Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Society and the Dance

Society and the Dance
The Social Anthropology of Process and Performance

$47.99 (P)

Sue Jennings, John Blacking, Adrienne L. Kaeppler, Andrew Strathern, Paul Spencer, John Middleton, Alfred Gell, Peter Brinson.
View all contributors
  • Date Published: January 1986
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521315500

$ 47.99 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Dancing has its place in all societies; yet the phenomenon of dance has been oddly neglected by most anthropologists. This volume is intended to further anthropological awareness of its critical relevance. It is claimed that, in a very important sense, society creates the dance, and it is to society and not just to the dancer's experience that we must turn to understand its significance. Performance has meaning within social process. The anthropological analysis of dance can be approached in a variety of ways. These are identified in the introduction to the volume, and then illustrated by seven case examples drawn from Africa, Southeast Asia, Melanesia, and Oceanis. In successive chapters, dancing is presented as a controlled emotional outlet whose form reflects cosmology; as a creative experience that draws adolescent girls into the adult world; as an extension of speech and gesture that adds further levels of meaning to formal occasions; as a strategy for orchestrating the climax of a successful exchange; as a challenge to the power of elders that generates an alternative reality; as a communial response to crisis that recreates order out of confusion; and as a sequence of transformations that periodically resolves an inherent social dilemma. The volume concludes with an assessment of the relevance of the work by a dance scholar. By revealing dance as an aspect - often the most spectacular aspect - of ritual behaviour, this work is intended to stimulate more anthropologists and those in related disciplines to realise the full potential of its study. It also offers insights to those who are principally interested in dance itself, as well as appealing to any reader who shares a curiosity about the ways in which the spectacle of dance can be interpreted.

    Reviews & endorsements

    "...effectively demonstrates the importance of social context in understanding dance (and other forms of art), and provides many brilliant insights into a difficult subject." -- Journal of Asian Studies

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 1986
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521315500
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures and tables
    1. Temiar dance and the maintenance of order Sue Jennings
    2. Movement, dance, music, and the Venda girls' initiation cycle John Blacking
    3. Structured movement systems in Tonga Adrienne L. Kaeppler
    4. 'A line of boys': Melpa dance as a symbol of maturation Andrew Strathern
    5. Dance as antithesis in the Samburu discourse Paul Spencer
    6. The dance among the Lugbara of Uganda John Middleton
    7. Style and meaning in Umeda dance Alfred Gell
    Epilogue: Anthropology and the study of dance Peter Brinson
    Notes on contributors
    Name Index
    Subject Index.

  • Editor

    Paul Spencer


    Sue Jennings, John Blacking, Adrienne L. Kaeppler, Andrew Strathern, Paul Spencer, John Middleton, Alfred Gell, Peter Brinson.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.