Dance and the Specific Image (Paperback)


By Daniel Nagrin

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822955207, 256pp.

Publication Date: January 15, 1994

List Price: 28.95*
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After an extraordinary career in dance - as a performer, choreographer, and teacher - Daniel Nagrin has now written an extraordinary book.  In it he explores the roots of his aesthetic philosophy, influenced by Stanislavski, Helen Tamiris, Joseph Chaikin and the Open Theatre, and his work on and off Broadway as an actor and dancer.

Dance and the Specific Image includes over one hundred improvisational structures that Nagrin created with his new company, the Workgroup, and has taught in dance classes and workshops all over the United States.  Designed primarily for dancers, many can be adapted for actors and even musicians.

In the 1960s, at a time when many modern dancers were working with movement as abstraction, Nagrin turned instead toward movement as metaphor.  His passionate belief that dance must speak of people led him to found the Workgroup, a small company of dancers who, in the early 1970s, devoted themselves to the practice and performance of improvisation.

Nagrin invites the reader into the mind of a dancer totally absorbed in his art, one who writes with wisdom and authority about what it means to be an artist.

About the Author

Daniel Nagrin, dubbed “the great loner of American dance” by Dance Magazine, has worked with Martha Graham, Helen Tamiris, Mme. Anderson-Ivantzova, and Anna Sokolow. He has danced on Broadway, in film and television, and has toured nationally and internationally as a solo concert artist. He is professor emeritus of dance at Arizona State University.

Praise For Dance and the Specific Image: Improvisation

“The honesty, energy, and directness that have characterized the author's distinguished performing, teaching, and directing career are apparent throughout this new book.”


"Dance and the Specifc Image us written by a master—a master teacher, performer, philosopher, and explorer. Its mastery is evident from the scope and clarity of its intention [and it] bristles with Nagrin's inherent energy and directness."

—Murray Louis, Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Company