Women and Dance: Sylphs and Sirens

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Christy Adair's study is valuable, first because it introduces non-dancers to a history of dance--a history from the point of view of gender. Conversely, it introduces students of dance to critical theory, and suggests ways in which dance studies can benefit from this work. Most importantly, and crucially, she brings dance into the center of the study of gender and culture. Feminism, cultural studies, and dance analysis will all benefit from this reorientation.
??from the Foreword by Janet Wolff

Dance is a marginalized art form which has frequently been ignored in the various debates about cultural practices. This book redresses the balance and opens up some important areas for discussion. Christy Adair argues that dance is an arena for feminist practice particularly as feminism has recognized the centrality of the arts in shaping our ideas about ourselves and our society.

Women's high profile in dance leads to the popular opinion that it is a female art form. But women tend to interpret rather than to create dance images. This book highlights the consequences for female dancers of the development of western dance technique in a patriarchal society. The constraints placed upon them are revealed in the texture of the dances discussed. Christy Adair shows how challenging traditional images of women in dance offers us visions for the future. But, she argues, in order for women's perspectives to be clearly established and influential, women must also have access to positions of power, such as directors and choreographers.