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Book reviews for "Stearns,_Marshall_Winslow" sorted by average review score:

Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance
Published in Paperback by DaCapo Press (1994)
Authors: Marshall Winslow Stearns, Brenda Bufalino, and Jean Stearns
Amazon base price: $13.30
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Used price: $6.99
Collectible price: $19.00
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Average review score:

trivia, not how-to
Want to know what the "buck and wing" looks like? The "black bottom," "shorty george," "eagle rock" or "Jersey bounce"? Well, if you can read Labanotation, you can find out from the last pages of this book. Otherwise, you'll just have to settle for a bunch of dance history and anecdotes strung together by the Stearns, who interviewed as many American jazz dancers as they could still find alive.

It's fascinating stuff, though. The text does give some limited descriptions, and opening the book to a random page reveals both " . . .Crawley danced while he played clarinet, juggling the pieces as he dismantled it" and "As performed by Little Egypt at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, where it first received national attention as the Hootchy-Kootchy, the Shake dance was not particularly rhythmic."

As an actual history of American dance, for me this book lacks coherence. But I did learn about ways in which African dance influenced American, see the names of quite a lot of performers, steps, and performance venues, and learn to play the "Buck Dancer's Lament" on the piano. If you want something you can read a page of and then put down until later, this will fill the bill.

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