Directions of the Dance

December 25, 1970

Report Outline
Growth of Dance in the Performing Arts
Origins of Contemporary Dance Forms
Diversity of New Choreographic Trends

Growth of Dance in the Performing Arts

Lure of Western Ballet to Defecting Soviet Stars

To people who have watched the growth and ferment in American dance activity in the performing arts during the past two decades, it could hardly come as a surprise that ballerina Natalia Makarova decided to leave her native Russia for these shores. The 30-year-old dancer was one of the leading stars of the Kirov ballet in Leningrad until her defection to the West. Like the departure of Rudolf Nureyev in 1961, Miss Makarova's decision in September 1970 was based largely on artistic considerations. American ballet, she said in London upon being granted asylum, moves “constantly ahead, progressing to other things.”

That she chose to sign a year's contract with the American Ballet Theater is in one sense an indication of the coming of age of dance in America. There is added significance in that the dance company's new home will be in Washington, rather than in New York, upon completion of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on the banks of the Potomac in October 1971. Although New York remains the ballet capital of the United States, balletomanes are no longer confined to its environs. After Miss Makarova's debut with the Ballet Theater in New York's City Center during Christmas week, she and the company will perform in Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities before expected capacity crowds.

Interest in the dance across the United States embraces everything from classical to African ballet and from modern dance to Japanese Kabuki. What used to be a pleasant but trivial entertainment has become an art form comparable to music, painting or drama in its expressiveness and ability to move audiences. Nor is the dance removed from international politics. Soviet officials on Dec. 11 cancelled plans for the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater to tour the United States on grounds that “Zionist extremists” had harassed other cultural groups from Russia on tour in America.

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