Review: "China's Bending Bodies" by Mariam Ala-Rashi Covers the Development of Global Contortionists - StageLync
Our Term of Use, Cookie and Privacy Policy have been updated on June 3rd, 2024.OK

Review: “China’s Bending Bodies” by Mariam Ala-Rashi Covers the Development of Global Contortionists

China’s Bending Bodies: Contortionists and Politics in China is a research study monograph that covers the theories, history, and development of global contortionists. It is highly recommended as a foundation guide for any collection strong in in-depth circus history and culture.

Cultural anthropologist Mariam Ala-Rashi grounds her survey in a world investigation of contortionist history before narrowing the focus to China. She conducts a thorough investigation of the events and influences that have made Chinese contortionism a different form than in the West, creating a backdrop for better understanding the cultural and social influences on contortionists who work in different settings.

Scholars who look for the hallmarks of a well-researched study receive extensive footnotes and source materials listed in a bibliography which includes studies not just from Western resources, but around the world.

They will especially appreciate the critical eye that Ala-Rashi casts upon other studies: “It should be mentioned, however, that her publication Chinese Acrobatics through the Ages offered only a few references to support her findings. This leads one to the assumption that the data presented is based on oral history that was passed on from one generation to the next, the same way acrobatic skills were passed on. Nonetheless, the display of artifacts from various tombs of ancient China that she presents in her literature as material evidence underpin her research.”

These comments about other references enhance a survey rich in vetted research as it examines the 2,000-year history of Chinese acrobatic theatre’s development in light of other acrobatic efforts around the world and the studies which surround them.

Scholars interested in the cultural influences of contortionism will also appreciate the discussion of what separates the Chinese art from other approaches: “Although the training sequential for contortion is internationally similar, the daily training load, repetition of exercises and choreographies of BJIAS are still unparalleled to other contortion institutions. This is one reason for its international success. The extreme repetition of exercises and choreographies and the aim for perfection is at the heart of Chinese training methods.”

The result is a monograph that is a fitting and insightful survey essential for any library strong in well-researched histories of dance, circus performance, acrobatics, and cultural influences on performance.

While China’s Bending Bodies: Contortionists and Politics in China is designed to be part of a trilogy, its key inquiries and extensive historical probe lends to its stand-alone acquisition by any library interested in Chinese culture, politics, and various influences on its arts.


China’s Bending Bodies

Mariam Ala-Rashi, MA

Modern Vaudeville Press

ASIN: ‎B09RQ435FQ              $9.99 Kindle

Publisher: www.ModernVaudevillePress.com

Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/Chinas-Bending-Bodies-Contortionists-Politics-ebook/dp/B09RQ435FQ  ;  https://modernvaudevillepress.com/chinas-bending-bodies/

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer -United States
Diane Donovan, senior reviewer for the Midwest Book Review, has been reviewing books for over forty years now, working with over 300 publishers and over 50,000 books! She is a voracious reader enjoying all kinds of books, both nonfiction and fiction. Interests range from science fiction, biography, cookbooks, and self-help titles, to poetry, history, and children's books. In this world of specialization, she considers herself a generalist with many interests.

Her reviews, blogs and articles have appeared (over the past three decades) in VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates), Popular Woodworking, GRIT, The Bookwatch, Children's Bookwatch, and more. She edits Children's Bookwatch and California Bookwatch for The Midwest Book Review, and her regular column "Donovan's Bookshelf" appears in the monthly publication MBR Bookwatch, profiling the best in upcoming new releases!

Editor's Note: At StageLync, an international platform for the performing arts, we celebrate the diversity of our writers' backgrounds. We recognize and support their choice to use either American or British English in their articles, respecting their individual preferences and origins. This policy allows us to embrace a wide range of linguistic expressions, enriching our content and reflecting the global nature of our community.

🎧 Join us on the StageLync Podcast for inspiring stories from the world of performing arts! Tune in to hear from the creative minds who bring magic to life, both onstage and behind the scenes. 🎙️ 👉 Listen now!

Diane Donovan

Diane Donovan, senior reviewer for the Midwest Book Review, has been reviewing books for over forty years now, working with over 300 publishers and over 50,000 books! She is a voracious reader enjoying all kinds of books, both nonfiction and fiction. Interests range from science fiction, biography, cookbooks, and self-help titles, to poetry, history, and children's books. In this world of specialization, she considers herself a generalist with many interests. Her reviews, blogs and articles have appeared (over the past three decades) in VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates), Popular Woodworking, GRIT, The Bookwatch, Children's Bookwatch, and more. She edits Children's Bookwatch and California Bookwatch for The Midwest Book Review, and her regular column "Donovan's Bookshelf" appears in the monthly publication MBR Bookwatch, profiling the best in upcoming new releases!