Feature: A - Z of Dance

Tuesday 8 December 2009

In the absence of many entries for ‘U’, we have a selection of extracts from the entry on the United States.
United States, The
In the 18th and 19th centuries ballet was imported to America by European artists and companies. The earliest recorded ballet performance took place in 1735… the English dancer Henry Holt appeared in The Adventures of Harlequin amd Scaramouche and The Burgo’master Trick’d …..

…The first truly American production occurred in 1794 when La Foret Noire was staged for Anna Gardie in Philadelphia, an important early centre of dance….

…In the 1820’s a wave of French artists, bringing with them a much more virtuosic style, delighted American audiences. The US saw La Sylphide for the first time in 1835 and Giselle(in Boston) in 1846.
…The 19th century also saw the development of the first truly American theatrical dance form: tap dancing. William Henry Lane (c1825-52), an African-American known as Master Juba, introduced the form to Europe, where he was acclaimed by the critics for his fusion of W.African rhythms with European hard-shoe step dances. White American popular culture drew heavily on African-American song and dance, a trend that has continued to this day. However, it was not until the 20th century that American theatrical dance began to rival – and even outstrip its European counterpart. In the early years of the 20th century audiences were still inspired by visits from foreign troupes…. With the arrival of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1938 ballet in the 1938 ballet in the US finally took hold as an indigenous art form. During the 1930’s the School of American Ballet was founded; Kirstein and Balanchine formed their first company (the American Ballet, which resided at the Metropolitan Opera House for two years.)…

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers …Meanwhile, US modern dance was already well advanced, thanks to the pioneering work of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St.Denis, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and others in the first four decades of the 20th century…….
…On Broadway, show dancing absorbed the rhythms of the jazz age and defined a new theatrical style; Hollywood committed to celluloid some of the most dazzling large-scale ensemble choreography ever seen, while Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers became household names around the world….

Stephen Petronio …After the Second World War dance exploded in America. New York City Ballet was founded, while Joffrey, Cunningham, Taylor, Limon, and Ailey ran successful modern dance companies of their own based in New York. The 1960s saw huge growth in the independent dance sector. It was a time when many influential choreographers began working, including Twyla Tharp, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, and Steve Paxton.
In the 1980s a new generation of choreographers, including Mark Morris and Stephen Petronio, formed their own companies, while Miami City Ballet was born, thus continuing the development of the American dance scene….

Dictionary of Dance Buy the book
The A – Z of dance is taken from extracts from The Oxford Dictionary of Dance by By Debra Craine and Judith Mackrell. £25.00 Hardback from Arts-books.com(delivery not included) Click here to buy the book from Arts-Books.com>>

N.B. Illustrations are not from the Oxford Dictionary of Dance

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