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Editorial Introduction

Brenda Farnell

In Memoriam
Dr. Andrée Grau (1954–2017)

It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the sudden and unexpected death of our colleague and friend Dr. Andrée Grau on September 27, 2017, in Clermont Ferrand, France. In celebration of her life as a fine scholar and dedicated teacher and of her many valuable contributions to the anthropology of dance, we devote this issue of JASHM to three papers that span her career and research interests. In addition, we are pleased to include an essay about Dr. Grau's life and work by her close friend and longtime collaborator Dr. Georgiana Gore. An excellent obituary by Dr. Theresa Buckland that details Andrée's research and contributions to the field can also be found online in the archives and manuscripts section of the Royal Anthropological Institute (

     The first selection (from over forty-three articles—see is a paper that illustrates Andrée Grau's extensive knowledge of Tiwi dance and culture––insights grounded in her long-term dissertation field research. The article first appeared in 1983, the year Dr. Grau was awarded her doctoral degree in social anthropology from the Queen's University of Belfast, where she studied under the ethnomusicologist John Blacking. One of several she wrote on Tiwi dances and dancing, the article is titled "Sing a Dance—Dance a Song: The Relationship between Two Types of Formalized Movements and Music among the Tiwi of Melville and Bathurst Islands, North Australia." At the time of its publication, many dance researchers were preoccupied with finding a definition of 'dance' that would cover all cases and categories, an endeavor rife with problematic assumptions about the universality of dancing as a human practice, given emerging ethnographic knowledge of widespread differences of form and function that defied cross cultural generalization. Dr. Grau skillfully uses the lack of a clear distinction between 'dance' and 'song' in Tiwi cultural and linguistic categories to challenge easy definitions, concluding that "[o]ne can say that 'dance' is universal but that the ethno-semantic domain of 'dance' does not exist in every society or at least is bounded differently in different societies" (see also discussion in Williams 2004: 5–7, 116). We also note with interest that Dr. Grau pioneered the use of Benesh movement notation in her ethnographic accounts of dancing, having graduated from the Benesh Institute in 1976. Although rigorous comparative examination (Page 1990) shows this system to be less suitable than the Laban script (Labanotation) for ethnographic purposes, its use demonstrates Dr. Grau's recognition of, and support for, the development of movement literacy in anthropology of dance research.

     The second paper presents Dr. Grau's more recent work on a family of Indian choreographers and dancers, the Sarabhai family. Titled "Political Activism and Dance: The Sarabhais and Nonviolence through the Arts" (Grau 2013), this is part of a book-length project that was close to completion and may well be published posthumously (Buckland 2018). Laden with historical and ethnographic detail, the article focuses particularly on Mallika Sarabhai's choreographic works and her career as a dancer-activist. Dr. Grau documents not only the intersection of national politics and sociopolitical issues in Sarabhai's choreographic works but also explores the conflicts that arise given the disparity between this activism and the family's elite class position.

     The third selection presents an unpublished conference paper that Dr. Grau was in the process of preparing for publication. "Tiwi Classical Rituals in the Age of Hyper-Capitalism" was presented in a panel "Ritual, Dance, and Legacy" organized by Georgiana Gore for the International Council of Traditional Music's forty-fourth World Conference held at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, July 13–19, 2017. Georgiana Gore has kindly prepared the oral presentation for publication in JASHM with permission from Andrée Grau's husband, Dominique Bernard, whom we wish to thank warmly for making it possible to read her last thoughts and writing on Tiwi ritual. The oral rendition was accompanied by a PowerPoint slide show containing maps, photographs, and film, which are included here. A few minor editorial changes have been made to the text for clarity; any alterations to Andrée's words follow the convention of using square brackets.

     Our sincere thanks to Georgiana Gore for her contribution to this special issue at this difficult time. Fortunately, through her many students, Andrée Grau's extensive contributions to the anthropology of dance will continue to influence the field internationally; but her tireless enthusiasm, dedication, empathy, humor, and generosity of spirit will be sorely missed by us all.

References Cited:

Buckland, Theresa
2018. Andrée Grau, 1954–2017. Obituaries. Royal Anthropological Institute, March 2018. (accessed October 14, 2018).

Grau, Andée
1983. Sing a Dance—Dance a Song: The Relationship between Two Types of Formalized Movements and Music among the Tiwi of Melville and Bathurst Islands, North Australia. Dance Research 1(2): 32–44.
2013. Political Activism and Dance: The Sarabhais and Nonviolence through the Arts. Dance Chronicle 36(1): 1–35.
2017. Tiwi Classical Rituals in the Age of Hyper-Capitalism. Unpublished paper presented in panel "Ritual, Dance, and Legacy." Forty-Fourth World Conference, International Council of Traditional Music. Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, July 13–19.

Page, Joanne
1990. A Comparison between Two Movement Writing Systems: Laban and Benesh Notations. Master's Thesis. University of Sydney.

Williams, Drid
2004. Anthropology and the Dance: Ten Lectures. 2nd ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.



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