Ballet in England. Ballet in the United States. History

Ballet in England. Two major ballet companies were founded in England in the early 1900's. One was the Ballet Rambert, now called the Rambert Dance Company, originated by the Polish teacher Marie Rambert The other was the Vic-Wells Ballet, directed by Dame Ninette de Valois. The company later became the Sadler's Wells Ballet and is now called the Royal Ballet Sir Frederick Ashton, who worked with this company, became England's leading choreographer.

He created ballets with no story {Symphonic Variations, 1946), dramatic works (A Month in the Country, 1976), and playful ballets (Tales of Beatrix Potter, 1971). Ashton choreographed many ballets for the great English ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. Together they created a British ballet style known for its dignity and sensitivity to musical phrasing. Other leading dancers who worked under Ashton included Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell, who formed a famous partnership. Dowell became director of the Royal Ballet in 1984. The Birmingham Royal Ballet, descended from the Royal Ballet's touring company, became a major company in its own right.

Ballet in the United States. After Diaghilev's death, George Balanchine worked briefly in Europe and then settled in the United States in 1933. There, he helped found the School of American Ballet and a troupe that became the New York City Ballet Balanchine was one of the most important choreographers of the 1900's, creating a wide variety of traditional and experimental works.

He became famous for ballets that centered on movement for movement's sake. He created ballets that were physical representations of the music and ballets that evoked a mood without trying to tell a story.

Balanchine was an important teacher, and he expanded the ballet vocabulary and point technique. Many of the finest ballerinas of the 1900's danced in his company, including Melissa Hayden, Maria Tallchief, Violette Verdy, and Suzanne Farrell. Notable male dancers under Balanchine included Jacques d'Amboise, Arthur Mitchell, Edward Villella, and Peter Martins. Most of his leading dancers became choreographers, teachers, and company directors throughout the world.

In 1940, a troupe that became the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) gave its first performance. The ABT joined the New York City Ballet as one of America's two major ballet companies. The ABT developed a repertory that included works by choreographers Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, and Antony Tudor. The three explored various types of dramatic expression. De Mille's Rodeo (1942) is set in the Western United States and includes cowboy characters. Robbins's Fancy Free (1944) is a light-hearted work that follows three sailors on leave as they look for fun in New York City. Tudor's Pillar of Fire (1942) explores the psychological conflicts of a shy woman who fears that she will never marry.

In the mid-1900's, several ballet companies were established in New York City. The Joffrey Ballet (now the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago) was founded by choreographer Robert Joffrey in 1956. It was the first American troupe to invite a new generation of experimental choreographers to compose dances. Among the most notable were Laura Dean and Twyla Tharp. The Joffrey also encouraged important revivals and was among the first to perform ballets choreographed to rock music, such as Gerald Arpino's Trinity (1970).

In 1968, the African American dancer Arthur Mitchell established a dance school in the Harlem district of New York City. The school led to the founding of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Mitchell dedicated his company to challenging the prejudice that black dancers were not suited to ballet The Dance Theatre of Harlem presented a varied repertory, including works by black choreographers. The efforts of Mitchell and others encouraged many ballet troupes to become multiracial.


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