At the end of World War Two, dance lovers told one story about the development of British ballet: Ninette de Valois’ Sadler’s Wells Ballet, a once tiny group of dancers, was transformed into the organization that would represent British ballet to the world. In the years that followed the war, most dance historians followed this narrative arc. To present a more complete account, Albion’s Dance takes as its main subject other less well-known dancers, companies, producers, and choreographers as well as the dance advocates and critics who documented and helped shape the art form during the decades before and during the war. This chapter sets up the framework for this chronicle of the discrete time period during which the British ballet formulated its identity as a classical art form after the choreographic experimentalism of the 1920s and 1930s, and when ballet flirted with populism in spite of pressures exerted by balletomanes to guard its elitist status.
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