Ballet, like many other art forms, has a long and rich history of evolution and development. In fact, researchers examining the history of ballet have noted that the earliest precursors to ballet can be found as far back as the Renaissance in Italy (Wiley, 2006). Since this time, ballet has expanded and developed based not only on the prevailing culture at a given time, but also with respect to the specific country in which it was performed. With the realization that ballet has such a long and rich history, there is a clear impetus to examine this history and the evolution of ballet overall. Using this as a basis for investigation, this research considers the development of modern ballet in the United States. Through a careful consideration of what has been written about the history of modern ballet, it will be possible to demonstrate how this art form developed in the United States.
[...] Thus, as a result of the expanding popularity of ballet and the collapse of modern dance, ballet was able to become the cultural choice among most American art patrons. After World War II dance in the US began to further diffuse into mainstream society as Broadway become a popular venue for plays and other forms of entertainment. In the post-World War II era, ballet began to be incorporated into a host of other theatrical and dance forms. Foulkes notes that it is at this point that American ballet began to decline. [...]
[...] Adshead-Lansdale and Layson (1994) note that in 1933, Lincoln Kirstein an American visiting Paris invited one of Diaghilev protégés, George Balanchine, to come to the United States a develop a ballet school for American dancers. Balanchine accepted the offer and in 1934 the School of American Ballet was opened in New York. After almost two decades of being performed in the United States, ballet had finally found a home for aspiring young women seeking to learn this art. As ballet began to mark its development in the United States, researchers examining the history of this art have noted that a specific structure in the ballet dance company began to develop. [...]
[...] According to Hering (1994), “When American ballet companies were first founded during the early years of this century; their artistic directors were responsible for everything. They trained their dancers, created much of the repertoire, staged the performances, attended to the fund raising, and motivated their boards” (p. 23). Thus, when George Balanchine assumed responsibility for the School of American Ballet, he also assumed responsibility for a host of other production issues. Although Hering notes that this structure subsequently changed over the course of time, it is clear that in the early years of ballet in the United States, the artistic directors assumed considerable responsibility for the development of this art form. [...]
[...] Ballet dancers and artists lead this trend by pushing for the development of an art form that captured the spirit and ideology of the American culture. When it was introduced to America, ballet presented a host of problems for professionals that had been trained in modern dance. As noted by Foulkes, modern dancers in the United States had been trained by “allowing the movement to flow out from the chest through the arms and legs to start each movement from the center—the seat of the heart and lungs—and soul” (p. [...]
[...] By the 1940s, modern dance and ballet began to form a harmonious union as America began to develop its own unique from of ballet. Foulkes argues that, technique the new ballets rarely focused on delicate pointe work or traditional pas-dedeux partnering. Instead, they featured stylized folk dances and everyday motions to convey character and narrative. Modern dance loosened ballet technique and both forms shared nationalist themes” (p. 154). By the mid-1940s, American ballet was garnering critical acclaim as production companies began to develop modern ballets focused on an expanded synthesis of modern dance and ballet. [...]
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