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Albion's DanceBritish Ballet during the Second World War$
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Karen Eliot

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347629

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347629.001.0001

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Making Ballet Central to British Wartime Experience

Making Ballet Central to British Wartime Experience

(p.29) 2 Making Ballet Central to British Wartime Experience
Albion's Dance

Karen Eliot

Oxford University Press

After closing all theaters when war began, government authorities recognized the public’s need for morale-boosting entertainment and re-opened them. Ballet could raise public morale as audiences responded to ballet’s evocation of beauty and found kinesthetic satisfaction in ballet’s physicality. Dancers’ emphasis on hard work, sacrifice, pragmatism, and idealism also aligned with the public mood. New companies, many sponsored by CEMA and ENSA, and all with varying missions were created to respond to a recognized public need for art and entertainment. Coincidentally, they employed out-of-work dancers, thus saving female dancers from military duties. The backgrounds and origins of several ballet companies are examined with reference to their repertoire and the audiences they attracted. Despite dancers’ efforts to contribute toward public good, there were instances of greed and self-interest. Some complained of mistreatment by Harold Rubin, director of the Arts Theatre and the producer behind the Lunch-Time Ballets.

Keywords:   morale-boosting entertainment, CEMA, ENSA, ballet companies, Harold Rubin, Arts Theatre, Lunch-Time Ballets

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