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Shapes of American BalletTeachers and Training before Balanchine$
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Jessica Zeller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190296681

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190296681.001.0001

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Ballet in America

Ballet in America

Coming of Age in a Market Economy

Chapter:
(p.59) Chapter 3 Ballet in America
Source:
Shapes of American Ballet
Author(s):

Jessica Zeller

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190296681.003.0004

The American economic system had a marked influence on the development, perception, and identity of ballet in the United States during the early twentieth century. The market economy levied demands on ballet; in order to remain financially viable, it had to find ways to engage the American populace. Ballet’s subject matter took on a distinctly American tone in its bid to attract audiences. Ballet training and performance were extended to anyone who could afford the expense. Amateur dancers could participate in ballet by purchasing dancing manuals or prechoreographed dances to use as desired. At the same time, foreign ballet masters were cultivating groups of dancers with professional ballet ambitions. These students and teachers assumed the dual role of the artist–entrepreneur: the American economic structure obligated them to finance their own endeavors and compete, thus pitting dancer against dancer for paying jobs, and teacher against teacher for paying students.

Keywords:   capitalism, market economy, dance manuals, amateur dancers, American ballet

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