Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I am the Walrus.... dance history discussion

"I am the Walrus" Across the Universe Soundtrack - Bono

Today in Dance History class, we spent the whole hour just talking.  We are making a transition from modern dance to learning the beginnings of ballet in America (NYCB and Ballet Theatre aka ABT)...  One of my classmates brought up an interesting question; he asked, "Why do so many foreigners come to America to dance?"  I found this a very odd question because the person who asked this isn't American.  Anyway he brought up a valid discussion, one that I've always wondered about.  Why do so many foreigners come to America to dance?  I would do ANYTHING to get out of this country and work somewhere else with more culture and support of the arts.  The main answer to this question was that there is more opportunity in America.  Is that true, I don't know.  Maybe because he have dozens of companies all over the U.S. (yet so few of them have actual international acclaim).

We also talked about America vs. other countries (more exactly, Europe, that is).Why do European governments support the arts far more than the American government does?  I find this question sort of easy.  Ballet was created in monarchy states (Italy or France - whichever you prefer, even though it's proven to have been created in Italy).  America was created on the principle of freedom and democracy.  The first thing on Americans' minds was definitely not 'oh, lets make a theatre to have dancers and musicians perform.'  No.  Americans' first priorities was forming this country into what 'the people' wanted it to be.  The pursuit of happiness.  The arts, ballet in particular, thrive in Europe because of its role of tradition in these countries' cultures.  People in Europe are brought up learning about art history (including music, visual, and yes, BALLET).  For instance, I didn't know that ballet companies were still in existence in the present day until I was in seventh grade.  I had no clue that there were still ballerinas and male danseurs and corps de ballet.  Sleeping Beauty was just a Disney movie to me.  So if Americans were better educated in the arts, would they appreciate ballet more?  I would hope that the answer is yes.  However, that almost seems utopian.  It would be impossible for Americans to cherish the art of ballet as much as Europe does.

The only reason Americans know who Baryshnikov is, is because he defected from the Soviet Union at a time when the United States and S.U. didn't get along (for obvious reasons, check your history book for those of you who slept in history class... or life actually).  Yes, Baryshnikov was a product of Russian training, but if he hadn't defected, he would have never received such celebrity status.  Rudolf Nureyev also defected (duh), yet more Americans know who Baryshnikov is than Nureyev, even though Nureyev was a far better artist.

Anyhoo... Those are just my thoughts at the moment.



pav said...

wooooo! so many posts!
anyways: i feel like it's not the government's job to fund the arts, but at the same time, i feel like art is a huge part of a person's life education.

and also: isn't kinda unfair how we had art and music classes in elementary school, but we didn't have dance? i don't know about you, but music class was always just the class that got us some time to chill out... maybe dance, music, and art can rotate in schools?

Rachel Carina said...

i agree, it definitely isn't the government's job to fund ballet - or the arts. but yes, kids should be better educated in the arts. i am so fortunate to have been exposed to so much art history from my mom. if kids grow up with this knowledge, perhaps they will want to learn more or pursue it.