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

Shelton, Suzanne
Regionalization of dance: [dance in the Southwest],   pp. [308]-[311] PDF (3.9 MB)


Page [308]


by Suzanne Shelton
Texas Correspondent, Dance Magazine;
Dance critic, Texas Monthly.
Dance in the Southwest is in transition. The
Ballets Russe-influenced classical ballet,
which has dominated the region, is moving
over to make room for experimentation. This
new openness toward dance as a community
expression has produced changes in perform-
ing styles and conditions. The search for new
performing spaces has led Southwestern
companies to museums, outdoor pavilions,
band shells, alley ways, roof tops and shop-
ping malls. In Texas, Austin Ballet Theatre
performs once each month in a rock music
barn before an average audience of 1000
patrons who sip beer and watch a changing
repertoire of ballets. As dance becomes a
popular spectator sport, smaller companies
mushroom.
Performing companies in the Southwest fill
three broad categories. The major profession-
al company of the region is Houston Ballet.
Smaller professional troupes, which do not
pay dancers a union-scale wage, include such
companies as Dallas Ballet, Festival Ballet of
San Antonio and Dance Theatre of the South-
west, a modern dance company. Civic com-
panies affiliated with National Association for
Regional Ballet are found in most Southwest-
ern cities and form the heart of grass-roots
dance in the region. Ethnic dance thrives in
folk companies from the German and Czech
communities of Texas. Wichita Falls Ballet
Theatre performs authentic Eastern European
dances, and Houston Jazz Ballet bases its
repertoire on black dance. Chicano groups in
Texas border cities explore the Mexican-
American heritage, and American Indian
dance troupes in Texas, New Mexico and
Oklahoma keep this tradition alive.
A
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