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The Lion and the Unicorn: Festival of Britain Themes and Choreography in the Postwar Decade.

Larraine, Nicholas. (1999) The Lion and the Unicorn: Festival of Britain Themes and Choreography in the Postwar Decade. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

British theatre dance in the decade from 1945 has received little attention from dance historians. The existing literature mainly focusses on the dominant institution, the Sadler’s Wells organization, and its choreographers. This thesis investigates a much broader range of activity, also encompassing the more ephemeral companies, diverse genres including modem dance, and works outside the recognised canon. A main argument of this thesis is that dance works need to be understood with reference to their historical contexts. The Festival of Britain (1951) occupied a key position in the mapping of cultural values in postwar Britain. Imprinted upon it were specific issues of its time and place, so that it condensed a cultural debate about national identity and the new phase of modernity of the postwar world. General cultural surveys are used to contextualise theatre dance within this debate. Case studies of dance works reveal that choreographers were engaging with this contemporary discourse. Two works by John Cranko, "Harlequin in April" (1951) and "Pineapple Poll" (1951), manifest very different approaches to notions of a national identity formed by landscape and tradition. Different conceptualisations of modernity are addressed in another two works: "Once I Had Laughter" (Loman, 1949) is inspired by contemporary events and illustrates the decade’s preoccupation with psychological states; in "Symphony for Fun"(Charnley, 1952), modernity equals the new lifestyle and values of youth and popular culture with an American flavour. Throughout the case studies the intrinsic features of the works are also appreciated as aesthetic forms which reflect upon the received heritage of the art. The conclusion reveals a double perspective on theatre dance in the postwar decade. It was a period when the dominant influences favoured dance which reflected Britain as the land of tradition, and this was an environment which often inhibited experiment. Nevertheless the full picture must include choreography reflecting the new face of Britain which was engaging with contemporaneity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Larraine, Nicholas.
Date : 1999
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1999.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 24 Apr 2020 15:27
Last Modified : 24 Apr 2020 15:27
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/854799

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