Dancing till Dawn: A Century of Exhibition Ballroom Dance

By Julie Malnig | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Exhihition Ballroom Dance in Early Musical Theatre

It was not only in vaudeville that exhibition ballroom dance rose to prominence. During the teens and twenties, musical theatre producers eagerly capitalized on the latest social trends, drawing in crowds craving the excitement and novelty of stylized intimacy in dancing. More than a passing fad, however, the incorporation of exhibition ballroom numbers helped rejuvenate early twentieth-century musical theatre, and signaled a new era in musical theatre dance. During the teens and early twenties exhibition ballroom dance was the predominant form of specialty dance featured in Broadway musical theatre productions. Indeed, many of the techniques used to integrate exhibition ballroom dance into productions during this time have endured to the present day.


BACKGROUND

The concept of individual couples performing virtuosic ballroom numbers was not known to musical theatre audiences prior to 1910. In the predominant forms of musical theatre in the late nineteenth century--comic operas, melodramas, and spectacles--ballroom numbers tended to be large, group-dance affairs, mirroring the ways in which social dances were performed by the populace. In the 1887 production of Erminie, for example, a very popular stage spectacle of the time, the Act II finale occurred in a lavishly decorated ballroom and featured a gavotte performed by the ensemble. 1 The popular European light operas featuring the melodious harmonies of Lehar, Strauss, and Offen

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Dancing till Dawn: A Century of Exhibition Ballroom Dance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Note xi
  • Chapter 1 the Origins and Rise of Exhihition Ballroom Dance 1
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 Dancing Deities: Career Paths of the Early Innovators 19
  • Notes 33
  • Chapter 3 Cabaret Dancing 37
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 4 Taking the Palace by Storm: Exhibition Ballroom Dance in Vaudeville of the Teens and Twenties 51
  • Notes 66
  • Chapter 5 Exhihition Ballroom Dance in Early Musical Theatre 89
  • Notes 105
  • Chapter 6 Decline and Rebirth 109
  • Notes 131
  • Chapter 7 the Contemporary Renaissance 137
  • Notes 145
  • Appendix a Social Dances, 1908-1919 149
  • Notes 150
  • Appendix B Exhibition Ballroom Dance Technique, 1908-1919 153
  • Notes 156
  • Selected Bibliography 157
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 175
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