West Side Story Dance Analysis

2105 Words9 Pages
West Side Story; The Discrimination Behind the Song and Dance According to Alberto Sandoval-Sanchez, The musical (West Side Story) projects ethnic difference as a threat to the territorial, racial and linguistic identity, as well as to the national and imperial subjectivity of Anglo Americans. The musical, uses plot points, characters, music, dialogue and dances as a distraction from the ethnic and racial discrimination against Puerto Rican immigrants of that time. West Side Story may not necessarily immediately appear to be an inherently racist musical, however according to Puerto Rican Alberto Sandoval-Sanchez, after immigrating to the US in 1973 to attend college, the musical was frequently imposed upon him as a model for his Puerto Rican…show more content…
(73) Although it is a Puerto Rican who sings it, the patriotic message is delivered by an assimilated immigrant who despises her origin and culture and prefers the comfort of the "American way of life." This song has “typical Spanish” rhythm and choreography. The song's confrontation of identities takes place when the Puerto Ricans consciously take sides on issues of assimilation. The importance of this scene does not derive simply from its comical aspect, but rather, from the fact that the Puerto Ricans insult each other for being divided politically and ideologically between the nationalists and the assimilated. (73) According to Sandoval-Sanchez, “In the film version, this scene, which, in the original text is a racist and defamatory articulation toward Puerto Rico, was revised in order to soften the negative attitude, toward Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican immigrants.” (74) In the film, Anita sings, "My heart's devotion." Immediately, the line is followed by "Let it sink back in the ocean," a statement of contempt. Compared to the version sang in the film, the original text was far less watered down, “Puerto Rico, you ugly island, Island of tropic diseases. Always the hurricanes blowing, Always the population growing, and the money owing, and the babies crying, and the bullets flying.” FIND A…show more content…
Sandoval Sanchez argues, “Romantic melodrama is a strategy of power used to hide and soften the racist discourse. The narrative detour from warfare to love story functions as a camouflage. In these terms, the system of power disassociates itself from any consciousness of racial prejudice and discrimination.” (72) Their utopian love cannot exist and the Puerto Ricans are the ones portrayed as being responsible for it. The Puerto Ricans provoke the Jets by killing one of them, Tony responds by killing Bernardo, and the chain is closed when Chino kills Tony. With this final death, the happily-ever-after outcome for Maria (and the audience) is impossible. In addition, in this last scene, Chino is arrested. It is clear that prison is the only space available for criminal immigrants. In this final scene, the audience identifies with Maria and Tony. Only Chino bears the blame for the tragedy. It does not cross the viewer's mind that Tony is also a criminal. (73) His crime is obscured by Maria's love when she sings the song "I Have a Love": it is a kind of love that is too strong to be rational. Ironically although Tony has killed her brother, she cannot stop adoring him: "Te adoro, Anton." In the tragic last moments of the film, Maria sings of a distant dream, a utopia of love after life, in “Somewhere.” But is this a place, in reality that she can ever reach? Her
Open Document