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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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An Art or a Sport?

An Art or a Sport?

Recitals and Competitions

(p.203) 9 An Art or a Sport?
Ballet Class

Melissa R. Klapper

Oxford University Press

Most ballet students in the United States have taken class for recreational purposes rather than pre-professional training. Recitals developed as a means of giving them performance opportunities while also demonstrating their accomplishments to their families. Teachers also benefited from recitals, which allowed them to showcase their work. By the mid-twentieth century, ballet recitals were already a ritual of American life. As more girls turned to sports in the wake of Title IX, 1972 federal civil rights legislation that required equal opportunities for girls and boys in educational environments, the number of competitions for recreational ballet students increased sharply. The hope was that making ballet more sport-like and competitive would help retain girls and boys alike as students. While dance competitions remain controversial and have compounded previously existing issues of access, they are now so pervasive that they are part of the landscape of recreational as well as professional ballet.

Keywords:   ballet, recitals, competitions, feminism, Title IX, performance

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