Right to Dance: Dancing for Rights


291 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-894773-10-1
DDC 306.4'846





Edited by Naomi M. Jackson

M. Wayne Cunningham is a past executive director of the Saskatchewan
Arts Board and the former director of Academic and Career Programs at
East Kootenay Community College.


This collection of 11 scholarly analyses of the interplay between dance
and human rights will appeal to human-rights advocates as well as
practitioners, cultural historians, teachers, managers, and fans of all
kinds of dance, whether in its “vernacular, theatrical, sacred or
therapeutic form.”

With the exception of Margaret Chan’s enlightening essay on the
Beijing Opera and the Chinese cultural revolution, all of the essays
deal with aspects of dance in Canada. Iro Tembeck’s overview documents
the history of the relation between dance and religion and Quebec
provincial politics from early times to present-day Montreal, along the
way referencing the censorial storms surrounding dancer Lili St-Cyr and
Les Ballets Africains. West Coast political bans on the right to dance
are discussed in Aaron Glass’s “The Thin Edge of the Wedge.”
Cheryl Smith describes how Cold War politics caused the cancellation of
a Royal Winnipeg Ballet performance in Sudbury. Peggy Baker and Liz
Marshall detail how music, dance, and documentary film have been
combined to memorialize the 14 women killed in Montreal’s l’Йcole
Polytechnique massacre.

Amy Bowering examines the history of Canadian dancers’ working
conditions, contracts, and unions from 1900 to 1980, while Megan Andrews
discusses the development of the Ontario Chapter of the Canadian
Alliance of Dance Artists’ professional standards for their art. Kaija
Pepper recognizes the human-rights efforts in the work of master
choreographers Paula Ross, Jay Hirabayashi, and Judith Marcuse. Dianne
Milligan emphasizes in “Six Nova Scotia Stories” how unsung heroes
there ensured that “Nova Scotia had dancers and musicians who could
hold their own on any stage in the world.” Christopher Lowry cites
similar individual

efforts for programs across Canada that encourage children in adverse
circumstances to participate in the expressive arts. The final chapter
by Lisa Doolittle and Anne Flynn reminds dance practitioners and their
colleagues that in exercising their rights they also have
responsibilities to each other as well as to their larger communities.

Right to Dance is an engrossing volume about the power of dance to
profoundly affect the lives of performers and audiences alike.


“Right to Dance: Dancing for Rights,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15781.