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Ballet ClassAn American History$
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Melissa R. Klapper

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190908683

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190908683.001.0001

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A Troubled/Troubling History

A Troubled/Troubling History

Race and Ballet in America

(p.129) 6 A Troubled/Troubling History
Ballet Class

Melissa R. Klapper

Oxford University Press

Ballet has been and continues to be among the least diverse of the performing arts. Until well into the twentieth century, most African American children who wanted to take ballet class were forced to go to segregated studios, which played significant roles in local communities. African Americans also faced very limited opportunities for ballet careers. There were important exceptions who served as role models, and the creation of the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969 helped challenge the racist assumptions that dancers of color could not master the ballet aesthetic. A number of prominent Native American ballerinas faced less discrimination. Recent diversity initiatives are slowly improving the situation in both recreational and professional ballet.

Keywords:   ballet, race, racism, segregation, diversity, African Americans

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