ISBN 9789987080502
Pages 328
Dimensions 235 x 180 mm
Illustrations B/W Illustrations and Colour Photographs
Published 2010
Publisher Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Tanzania
Format Hardback

Mask of the Spring Water

Dance as a Source of Culture in Africa

by Birgit Akesson

KALLVATTNETS MASK was first published in Swedish in 1983; and this is the first English translation, by Rachelle Puryear and Hakar Lovgren. The author, Birgit Akesson (1908-2001) was a legendary figure, an innovative modern dancer and choreographer, and a teacher and researcher. This is her very personal documentation of traditional African dance in a number of societies in East, West and Central Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. She travelled extensively in Africa, with stays in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and the Republic of Congo. She presents a unique body of material, analysed from her special vantage point. Her search for the essence of dance, the source beyond language or expression that was universal for true dance, had its point of departure in dance as an essential part of human existence. In opposition to many art historians, anthropologists and ethnologists, she experienced the dance, the masks, the music and the social interaction as intrinsic elements of a totality. In many instances, what she was allowed to see then may no longer exist, making her observations a valuable historical record of the state of traditional African dance in the mid-1900s.

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Review

“[The author’s] reputation as a pioneer and an avant-garde dancer and choreographer is well-established in Scandinavia and beyond, but less is known about her contributions to an understanding of African aesthetics and dance. This is why this book, a formidable and long awaited translation…will be welcomed by anybody across the globe who takes an interest in exploring, in her company, “African dance” as it is not normally pursued by anthropologists, ethnologists, or art historians…the book is a laboratory and gold mine for an Africanist.”

Research in African Literatures. Vol. 42, no. 4, Winter 2011

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