18 - Ballet in America
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How was America similar to courtly balls in Europe during the 18th Century?
There was an aristocratic group composed of gentry and wealthy merchants that made every effort to maintain class distinctions.
they used dancing masters and dancing assemblies (similar to courtly balls in Europe)
What was the main difference in American Dancing Assemblies?
Social elites danced at City Dancing Assemblies while lower social classes danced at General Dancing Assemblies. This places were also used to meet and mate. Overall, Americans loved to dance.
Where did the dance steps in early American came from?
The dance steps came from England and France as did many of the dancing masters
What was George Washington's position regarding dancing?
- He wrote a list of rules for social behavior.
- Frequented balls and was a patron of theater dance
- Considered dance as essential for physical exercise and morale of his officers
Which authentic American dances emerge during the latter half of the 1800’s ?
- The Military Schottische or Barn Dance
- The Boston Two Step and One Step
Why Dancing on colonial stages was a show-biz mix?
- Because interchangeable specialty dances could be inserted into a melodrama, farce, comic opera or circus program
- Because of full length pantomimes that featured songs, acrobatics, dialogue and dancing
Why did many French dancers come to America?
To escape turmoil after the French Revolution (1789-99)
How did the American Audience reacted during the 1820's to the techniques used by French dancers?
American audiences were enchanted with the latest ballet techniques such as dancing en pointe and multiple pirouettes
Who was Paul Hazard?
a French dancer who settled in Philadelphia and taught early famous American ballet dancers:
- Augusta Maywood
- Mary Ann Lee
- George Washington Smith
Who were the early American Ballet Stars?
- Augusta Maywood
- Mary Ann Lee
- George Washington Smith
What are the high points of Augusta Maywood?
She leaves America early to gain fame and fortune in Europe. Studied in Paris with Jean Coralli
What are the high points of Mary Ann Lee?
Studied with Coralli in Paris but returns to the US and presents the first American Giselle (1846) in Boston
What are the high points of George Washington Smith?
He partnered with Elssler during her American tour and performed the role of Albrecht opposite Lee in Giselle. He had no rivals as a dancer so his career was long and successful
Did Ballet develop as a serious art form in the US before the 20th century?
Ballet never developed as a serious art form in the US until the 20th century
What Ballet visits America during the 20th century and what happens with the American audience?
The Ballets Russes tours American and exposes American audiences to ballet performances of a quality never before seen
Why did Russian dancers/choreographers emigrate to the US?
Because of the Russian Revolution and World War I
Who were two important figures that emigrate to the US?
Fokine and Mikhail Mordkin
What did Fokine did in the US?
Fokine formed a group in New York with students in the 1920’s-30’s (strictly a Russian group)
What did Mikhail Mordkin did in the US?
Mordkin (Pavlova’s partner) formed a New York based company which would later become the American Ballet Theater (ABT)
Who was Lincoln Kirstein?
He was a critic, novelist and American writer who had an early interest in ballet and after seeing Ballets Russes when he was 17
What was Lincoln Kirstein nickname?
He was called the “American Diaghilev”
What Ballet impressed Lincoln Kirstein that he invites Balanchine (the choreographer) to the US in 1933 to form a new ballet school and company?
Who was George Balanchine?
- He was a dancer at the Imperial Ballet School
- a dancer at Ballets Russes
- The fifth and final choreographer of Ballets Russes
- the most influential ballet master in America
From the ten pieces choreographed by George Balanchine for Ballet Russes which are the only two in repertoire until today?
The Prodigal Son (1929)
What was Balanchine's new influence or style?
Neo = (new) restrained, sculptured lines with bent parallel limbs
Classic = (timeless) use of strict, sharp, brilliant steps in the academic tradition of Petipa
Describe the most important points of the Ballet Apollo
- Considered by some to be one of the most important ballets of the 20th century
- Scored by Stravinsky
- Story of the Greek god Apollo and his encounter with three muses (Calliope, Polymnia, and Terpischore)
- Celebrates the glorious qualities of Apollo and the three muses rather than works out a plot.
- This leads to Balanchine’s plotless ballets
How did the American audience reacted to Balanchine's works?
Balanchine’s acceptance by American audiences and critics was shaky. Some felt his works lacked the appeal of American modern dance while others felt it wasn’t Russian enough to warrant ballet
How did Ballet was seen during the depression?
ballet was seen as a threat, appearing too extravagant for Americans at the time.
What type of dance seemed more relevant during the depression and why?
Modern Dance seemed more relevant with social themes with which people could relate
What piece did Balanchine choreographed in 1946 that pushes the emergence of the New York City Ballet?
He choreographed Orpheus for the Ballet Society
Who composed the music for Orpheus?
To what other choreography by Balanchine Orpheus was similar to and how?
It was similar to Apollo in its serene, spare, and neoclassic style
Who invites Balanchine to form the official New York City Ballet?
How is the New York City Ballet considered today?
As on the world’s greatest ballet companies.
Who were some of the quality dancers who also were ethnically diverse and trained at the Ney York City Ballet NYCB?
- Suzanne Farrell (American)
- Mikhail Baryshnikov (Russian)
- Arthur Mitchell (African American)
- Maria Tallchief (American Indian)
According to the Balanchine Style how was the pre-selection of dancers based on body build?
- Streamlined women with long legs and necks
- Exceedingly thin
- Males were less characteristic/important
- “Ballet is woman”
According to the Balanchine Style what was the underlying principle?
How were Balanchine's Ballets?
While some where narrative, the major part were abstract or plotless ballets. There was Visual orchestration of a musical score and contain no dramatic characters or strong emotions.
How are plotless ballets in the Neoclassical style (Balanchine's style)?
- Removed elaborate setting
- Removed fancy costumes “leotard ballet”
- Placed faith in the power and the beauty of movement
- Large groups cut down to smaller numbers
- Used music as a solid base of creating choreographic structure
- Highly influenced by jazz (body isolations)
What are the four temperaments?
It was one of Balanchine's choreographies that tells the story based on medieval beliefs that all humans are made of four different humors that determine a person's character.
What is Jewels?
It's one of Balanchine's choreographies and the first full length abstract ballet.
What was the name of Balanchine works that showcase American spirit and athleticism?
Stars and Stripes choreographed to the marching band music of John Phillips Sousa
What was one of Balanchine's last works?
Who Cares (1970) choreographed to music of George Gershwin
What are two of the most important Ballet companies?
1. American Ballet Theatre
2. Dance Theatre of Harlem
Who was the founder of American Ballet Theater?
Who founded the Dance Theater of Harlem?
Arthur Mitchell in 1968
Who was Arthur Mitchell and who was his teacher?
He was the first African American soloist to perform with NYCB (1955) and trained with Balanchine. Then against all odds and stereotypes he founded his own school
What is the Signature work of Dance Theatre of Harlem?
What is Creolo Giselle about?
- Story set in Louisiana during the 1840’s. During this time social status among freed blacks was measured by how far removed one’s family was from slavery.
- Giselle faces the same social obstacles as did many African Americans in the 1840’s. One reason that Giselle cannot marry Albert is because of her social status; her family is not far removed from slavery.
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