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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Jacobs, Ellen W.
The dancer: [why everybody suddenly loves dance],   pp. 266-[271] PDF (6.2 MB)


Page 266


by Ellen W. Jacobs
Ellen Jacobs has written about dance for the
New York Times and Changes Magazine
among other publications.
Once upon a ballet, critics were so anxious
to get people to see a dance performance,
any dance performance, that if it moved
they tended to be kind. They were fostering
the art itself-which was necessary-not
the practise of the art. This is over.
-Clive Barnes
The New York Times
Sunday, September 28, 1975
At the end of a sold-out performance of the
Paul Taylor Dance Company this past June,
the audience jumped to its feet. Everyone
was clapping wildly when suddenly a friend
grabbed my arm. "Oh my God! Look, it's
him!" she whispered excitedly. "ROBERT
REDFORD. Dance has gotta have made it."
Actually, dance has more than made it. Dance
has become the "in" thing to see, along with
film. It is now chic to be able to name
dancers or to be seen with Alvin Ailey or
Joffrey fan buttons pinned to your lapel.
Recognizing that dance is so popular it can
even sell magazines, Newsweek and Time
decided to cash in on the art's current suc-
cess and run cover stories last May.
266
Newsweek reported that audience attendance
at dance performances had jumped 1500%
in just ten years-from one million in 1965 to
fifteen million in 1975.
In Soho lofts, museum and gallery spaces,
small theaters, churches and grade school
gymnasiums, as well as in cultural cathedrals
such as the New York State Theater, the
Metropolitan Opera House or the City Center
of Music and Drama, they are packing audi-
ences in. Where once you could buy a cheap
seat knowing there would be scads of empty
expensive ones to steal into, now even high
priced tickets must be purchased way in
advance. The ticket line for American Ballet
Theatre snaked around and around the New
York State Theater last summer. It was a
scalper's holiday.
So what happened? Why has America sud-
denly fallen in love with dance? And then,
perhaps a more revealing question-how
could we have not loved it all along?
An obvious clue is found in the arrival of
Rudolph Nureyev, whose exotic face, fabulous
body, air ripping leaps, flaring nostrils and
inexhaustible energy grabbed the American
imagination with a fierceness generally
reserved for movie or rock stars.
His nervy defection from Russia made news,
real news, not the artsy stuff that is habitually
shoved to the back of the book. Nureyev's
"leap to freedom" raised him to the level of a
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