Borrowing from contemporary semiotics and post-structuralist criticism, Foster outlines four models for representation in dance which are illustrated through an analysis of the works of contemporary choreographers and through historical examples beginning with court ballets of the Renaissance.
Foster posits the view that dance is a system of meaning that can be interpreted and comprehended if the viewer understands its choreographic conventions. Using the work of four 20th-century choreographersGeorge Balanchine, Martha Graham, Deborah Hay, and Merce Cunninghamby way of example, Foster compares and contrasts aesthetics of ideas, historical antecedents and models, and specifics of composition, such as style, movement vocabulary, and means of representation. The philosophical and semiotic writings of Suzanne Langer, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault are the bases for some of Foster's analyses. The opening chapter is excellent but as the book progresses, Foster strays from her four examples and her argument loses its clarity. Still, few books attempt to do what this one does. A specialized work recommended for large collections. Joan Stahl, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore