Read the essay “An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance.” which starts at page 33 and answer the following question. “Is ballet a form of ethnic dance”? What is Kealiinohomoku’s argument and how does she support it (give at least three examples). Do you feel this is substantiated and give reasons from the text, or from dances we’ve watched, to explain why you personally feel this is an accurate analysis or if you would put forth a counterargument.
This is the link.https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=yerTAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=dance+history+&ots=6X0VSPZZoW&sig=Ml7JahlNYYL0marqKTJNwtHt-Ng#v=onepage&q=dance%20history&f=false
Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance
Ballet dancing is a form of art that involves movements of the body utilizing scenic designs and costumes performed on stages to a certain audience. It can either express a thought, tell a story or .This essay reflects on the book Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic dance written by Joann Kealiinohomoku. The book mainly discusses the concepts of primitive dances and everything that entails such dances. Kealiinohomoku, in her book, defines some terms which she believes that many of the experts had used but failed to elaborate after that, giving detailed information on ballet ethnicity.
Kealiinohomoku’s argument on why ballet is a form of ethnic dance.
Through her research, Kealiinohomoku asserts that ballet falls under ethnic dances. Her reasons are that ballet dancing has some reflections of cultural resources, aesthetics, and ideals, especially on how the Dance is set up plus how the dancers carry themselves. “… in the generally accepted anthropological view, ethnic means a group which holds in common genetic, linguistic, and cultural ties, with a special emphasis on cultural tradition. By definition, therefore, every dance form must be an ethnic form.” Her statement affirms that ballet is indeed an ethnic dance, even though it has its roots from the western culture. The fact that its performers hail from the same origin, hold similar characteristics, and are brought together by the same culture makes it ethnic. Hence, it shouldn’t be superior to any other dance form cultures, not from the west (Kealiinohomoku, 39).
As the author asserts, “Dance is a transient mode of expression, performed in a given form and style by the human body moving in space. Dance occurs through purposefully selected and controlled rhythmic movements; the resulting phenomenon is recognized as Dance both by the performer and the observing members of a given group” (Kealiinohomoku, 38). Adding to the definition of dance is the term tension, which she believes is a part of dance that verbalizes the sounds of the dance. Her explanation for the word dance emphasizes ethnicity, rhythm, uniformity, and a common goal.
Reading further through the end of her article Kealiinohomoku gives detailed information on the ethnicity of ballet. Her reasons stem from the fact that ballet dancers have to put on stylized Western customs such as mourning customs, age of chivalry, and wedding while on stage; consequently, the westerners have also become accustomed to the lore of stage usage when performing. The performances also have traditional settings like curtain calls (KEALIINOHOMOKU, 40) hence, making it ethnic. Ballet dancing also has some form of western artistic values like; lifts, revealing legs, and slender bodies, overlooking the ballet, making it ethnic. Kealiinohomoku believes that westerners are hesitant in accepting that ballet is indeed an ethnic form of dance (Kealiinohomoku, 41) because they define the word ethnic as “exotic” or “savage” cultures. Therefore, they feel that the words are unfit to describe or define their own civilized culture.
From Kealiinohomoku’s article, I am convinced that ballet dancing is indeed ethnic because it possess the same characteristics as other ethnic/folk dances. For example, comparing it to waltz also known as ballroom an ethnic dance from German, where its members are brought together by a common agenda of uplifting their traditions, their performance is done on stages and they also have an attire for the dance.
In conclusion, reading through Kealiinohomoku’s book, it is evident that ballet dancing is indeed ethnic. By her definition, an ethnicity is a group of people with common linguistics, genetics, and cultural ties who aim to uphold a certain tradition. Ballet makes ballet dancing ethnic because it consists of people with similar characters practicing a common habit (ballet). Ballet dancers also have to put on stylized western customs and perform traditionally set stages to give a clearer picture of ballet ethnicity. Regardless of the definitions, the westerners have for the word race, just as they perceive other dance forms from different cultures to be ethnic, so is ballet dancing.
Kealiinohomoku, Joann. “An anthropologist looks at ballet as a form of ethnic dance.” Impulse 20 (1970): 24-33.