Ah, Independence Day. (Or as we like to call it around here, Indepen-DANCE day—it never gets old!) A whole 24 hours of hot dogs, corn on the cob, Popsicles, fireworks and red white and blue everything. Let's get this partay started!
To get us all in the spirit, here's part two of Dance Spirit's roundup of the most 'merican of Americana dance-odes.
1. Created in 1944, Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring brings us right to the heart of the American frontier, exploring the lives of two pioneer newlyweds. It's not super flashy, but add in Aaron Copland's iconic score, and it's a perfect recipe for celebrating the American dream.
Here's the Martha Graham Dance Company performing it last summer at Saratoga Performing Arts Center:
2. Agnes de Mille's Rodeo: The Courting at Burnt Ranch is also fueled by Copland's music. You might recognize his famous "Hoedown" movement in the fourth section, popularized by beef commercials in the early 1990s. (Oh, the 90s.) But the music gets me every time—it just screams America!
Here are the dancers of Colorado Ballet riding their imaginary horses in the first scene:
3. Ready for more pioneer goodness? Here's "Laurey's Dream Ballet," from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!Agnes de Mille choreographed the original Oklahoma! on Broadway in 1943, and in the clip below, you'll see the work of American Broadway darling Susan Stroman.
(A quick fyi: This is from the 1998 West End revival. I know, I know—British. Sorry. But it's also the version with Aussie Hugh Jackman, and American or not, you just can't look away...)
4. Let's fast forward a couple decades to Paul Taylor's Company B. It's set to the delightful musical stylings of the Andrews Sisters. Boogie on, bugle boy!
Here are excerpts of Miami City Ballet in the work:
5. And finally, there's a new celebration of our country's origins in town. Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, which opens on Broadway on July 13, drops us smack in the middle of the American Revolution. Is there a better way to commemorate our nation's history than with a dramatization of the founding fathers themselves? ...anyone?...anyone?... NOPE.
Look in your July/August issues for an interview with Hamilton's choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler.