In her influential 1961 text The Death and Life of Great American Cities, American-Canadian urban activist Jane Jacobs famously characterised the complex order of a successful city as ‘an intricate ballet’. The ‘dance’ of a thriving city sidewalk, says Jacobs, bucks trends of uniformity and repetition in favour of improvisation, movement, and change.
It should come as no surprise, then, that a book named Urban Choreography draws heavily on Jacobs’s work. In their introduction, co-editors Kim Dovey and Ronald Jones shed further light on their choice of title: ‘A city is not a static object but an assemblage of interconnections between people and place. … Urban choreography is the practice of shepherding, of seeking to ensure that synergy and harmony prevail over chaos, but it is not micromanagement of the form or the life of a city.’’