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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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British Choreography during the War

British Choreography during the War

(p.147) 7 British Choreography during the War
Albion's Dance

Karen Eliot

Oxford University Press

Most ballets choreographed during the war did not innovate; however, the diversity of works created and choreographers’ efforts to appeal to more of the British public aided choreographic development. Several critical debates were played out: after the war, choreographers no longer needed to defend their use of concert hall music. It was important to show seamless integration of dance and music. Choreographic movement choices expanded through absorbing non-classical elements: character dance, Central European modern dance, and popular theater forms. At war’s end, spectators identified their native tradition as classical, musically sensitive, and attuned to psychological realism. Privileging movement’s expressiveness rather than conventional 19th-century mime language, many British ballets also featured finely drawn character portraits and emerged from long-established British traditions of theater and literature. Ballets by Keith Lester, Frank Staff, Andrée Howard, Robert Helpmann, and Mona Inglesby are examples of the emerging British choreographic identity.

Keywords:   wartime choreography, non-classical elements, character dance, Central European dance, psychological realism, Keith Lester, Frank Staff, Andrée Howard, Robert Helpmann, Mona Inglesby

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