The Introduction poses the central question of the book: how is value defined and determined in dance? In answering this question it puts forth a definition of value as a central element within human life, but one that is always determined in relation to the specific histories, contexts, and people where it actualizes. Predicated on the symbolic encoding of actions as well as objects, value is often determined through exchange in which one object, service, or event is deemed equivalent to another. The Introduction then considers the general context within which the author’s study of dance as a form of exchange developed: the neoliberal, global marketplace; the increase in service forms of labor; the desire for authenticity; and the precarity of workers. The book argues that despite its ephemerality, dance manifests a materiality that makes it available for study as a form of social exchange. Teachers and students, choreographers and dancers, and performers and viewers all exchange dance. The study considers how value is produced during these exchanges by focusing on two types of transactions: commodity and gift.
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