By Adrienne L. McLean

ISBN-10: 0813542790

ISBN-13: 9780813542799

ISBN-10: 081354467X

ISBN-13: 9780813544670

From mid-twentieth-century motion pictures equivalent to Grand resort, Waterloo Bridge, and The purple sneakers to fresh box-office hits together with Billy Elliot, store the final Dance, and the corporate, ballet has chanced on its means, again and again, onto the silver monitor and into the hearts of many in a different way not going audiences. In death Swans and Madmen, Adrienne L. McLean explores the curious pairing of classical and modern, artwork and leisure, excessive tradition and pop culture to bare the ambivalent position that this artwork shape occupies in American life.Drawing on examples that diversity from musicals to tragic melodramas, she exhibits how advertisement motion pictures have produced a picture of ballet and its artists that's linked either with pleasure, success, reputation, and gear and with sexual and psychological perversity, depression, and loss of life. even though ballet continues to be got via many with a scarcity of curiosity or outright suspicion, McLean argues that those attitudes in addition to ballet's attractiveness and its acceptability as a life-style and a career have frequently trusted what audiences first discovered approximately it from the films.

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Additional info for Dying Swans and Madmen: Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema

Example text

And in this chapter I explore the various claims and treatises, by Isadora Duncan, Ted Shawn, Lincoln Kirstein, and others, made roughly 28 DY I N G S WA N S A N D M A D M E N over the first half of the century about what American ballet should be, in order to introduce how the film industry’s treatments of the art narratively and as performance, beginning with silent films like The Ballet Girl and Bobbie of the Ballet (both 1916) and The Dancer’s Peril (1917), help negotiate these different meanings.

Later ballet films, however, like Fame, Flashdance, Save the Last Dance, and Center Stage, overtly if ambivalently contest the presumed whiteness of the ballet body by making ballet’s 16 DY I N G S WA N S A N D M A D M E N relevance dependent on the infusion of entertainment values linked to the nonwhite dance performer. On a different level, because every human does have some kind of body, and because “normal” human bodies are, in an abstract mechanical and biological sense, assumed to be similar and to operate according to more or less well understood physical and biochemical processes to which all human bodies are subject, it seems like the one term that might not need definition in the theoretical sense.

First, the illustrations in this book are, whenever possible, taken from material that would have been circulating publicly at the time in relation to whatever film or body is under discussion. Rather than frame enlargements (the film-studies gold standard for the study of elements of film form), I employ posed publicity photos, press-book ballyhoo, posters, and other visual culture to help illustrate the ways in which film and ballet were represented to their contemporary audiences. Second, while I do not automatically include directors’ names or list the stars of all the films discussed in the text, more detailed information is offered in the filmography that follows the notes at the end of the book.

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Dying Swans and Madmen: Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema by Adrienne L. McLean


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