American Dance Culture

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very low wages and had to complete years of training to reach the status of a skillful ballerina. Along with copious amounts of dance practice, the American ballerina would usually take on other side jobs to pay for living expenses in addition to the cost of dance attire. However in Europe, the vocation as a ballet dancer was highly respected and rewarded. Many western countries had national sponsored ballet theater where its artists were well paid and “honored for their services exactly as though they were civil servants ” (Maynard, 1959, p. 43). Ballet might look graceful and effortless on stage, but it required a lot of work in terms of perseverance and physically on the body. The American ballerina really had to fight through hardship to…show more content…
After the end of World War II, American men return home and took back their jobs, and women were resorted to staying back at home to perform domestic task such as cooking, cleaning, and raising children. What arose was the gender expectation that the men were supposed to be the powerful leader of the family while women were to suppose to be the docile housewife. They were not encouraged to take part in masculine activities, but to be as feminine as possible. For instance, women’s fashion in the 50s was all about dresses and accentuating the curves of a woman’s body. To express the gender constraints that they were under, Americans turned to ballet. As Balanchine once explained, “The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and the man is the gardener ” (Friedler, 1997, p. 130). In other words, ballerinas were supposed to be graceful and beautiful like flowers and male dancers were supposed to be the controller or gardener of the performance. Interestingly, this sounded strikingly similar to the idea of the American family and ballet’s audience grew. Compared to the year of 1947, in 1955 articles in the press dedicate to ballet increased by 190%. In addition, ballet performances in New York grew from 110 shows in 1951 to 340 in 1964 (Fried-Gintis, p. 160). Because ballet represented common ideas that Americans were familiar with, they found a sense of comfort in ballet. Thus, by touching upon the values of American culture, ballet gradually became recognized as an art form in

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