chapter
Dance: Concert Dance in America
Pages 4

The critic Clive Barnes noted in 1974 that many of the twentieth century’s great male dancers and choreographers have been homosexual or bisexual. “Why then,” he asked, “is the dance world so coy and mealy-mouthed about dealing with the subject on stage?” On the other hand, for fellow critic Marcia Siegel even the veiled discussion was loud enough when she proclaimed the same year that “so much dance these days is primarily a homosexual pitch.” Any discussion concerning the (re)presenta-tion of homosexuality on the concert dance stage is inextricably linked to one’s definition of dance. If dance is physical poetry, it is then an art of metaphor and abstraction. Isadora Duncan embraced this theory that dance evokes rather than states: “If I could write it, I wouldn’t have to dance it.” Nevertheless, even in this poetic realm, to what extent does the gay choreographer or gay dancer’s own sexuality manifest itself is his work? Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov contends that dancers are not blank slates, that “all the experiences” of the dancer’s life, “all the images that his body has accumulated, these come up as colors in the dancing, giving it sparkle and complexity. They come out through the eyes, through the pores.” A further complication of dance analysis is that audience members can “see” homoerotic content where it was neither constructed nor implied. Despite this analytic quagmire, it is still possible to celebrate the accomplishments of queer dancers, choreographers, and impresarios who have shaped dance in America.