Seminar on 'Shakespeare and Dance' at Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting, St. Louis, 10-12 April, 2014

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Lynsey McCulloch (Coventry University) & Brandon Shaw (Brown University)

Alan Brissenden's 1981 Shakespeare and the Dance is the only full-length scholarly treatment of dance within Shakespeare's play texts. Despite subsequent academic interest in movement, materiality and the body – and the growth of dance studies as a disciplinary field – Shakespeare's employment of dancing as both theatrical device and thematic marker remains under-studied. Recent work by Jennifer Nevile, Mark Franko and Barbara Ravelhofer on Renaissance dance has radically altered our notions of choreography, embodiment and performativity in the period but Shakespeare remains, for the most part, absent from the discussion. Within contemporary performance criticism, the reimagining of his plays as dance works – examples include Kenneth MacMillan's incredibly popular 1965 Romeo and Juliet – is also neglected as a subject for research.

This seminar invites participants to examine Shakespearean dance in all its variety, with the objectives of stimulating interest in and producing conceptual schema relevant to this area of study. The discussion will enable researchers to better understand Shakespeare's use of dance. Equally, it will enhance scholarly appreciation for the function of dance as a trope within early modern language use. It is hoped that this seminar will also begin the process of cataloguing dance adaptations of Shakespeare's works, creating an invaluable resource for both early modern scholars and dance researchers.

Papers might consider the following: early modern choreography; dance as comic resolution; notation and choreographic language; dance and early modern etiquette; dancing clowns; Shakespeare's dance sequences; music and dance; references to dance and movement in Shakespearean texts; movement as metaphor; ekphrasis; dance and affect; dance and silence; theories of movement; masque culture and influence; movement direction in Shakespearean performance; Shakespeare as dance within balletic and contemporary choreographies. It is expected that this seminar will attract participants working in the fields of performance history and textual studies. We would also encourage and welcome participation from dance scholars and practicing dancers, choreographers and movement directors.

Seminar leaders: Dr Lynsey McCulloch (Coventry University) & Dr Brandon Shaw (Brown University)

Deadline: 15th September 2013

Seminar registration is open to SAA members who are college and university faculty, independent postdoctoral scholars and graduate students in the latter stages of their doctoral research. Register at: