Body and Society

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Unformatted text preview: http://bod.sagepub.com Body & Society DOI: 10.1177/1357034X05058020 2005; 11; 63 Body Society Mary Louise Adams Salvation of Men's Dancing ‘Death to the Prancing Prince’: Effeminacy, Sport Discourses and the http://bod.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/4/63 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at: Body & Society Additional services and information for http://bod.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://bod.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://bod.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/11/4/63 Citations at ARIZONA STATE UNIV on June 1, 2010 http://bod.sagepub.com Downloaded from ‘Death to the Prancing Prince’: Effeminacy, Sport Discourses and the Salvation of Men’s Dancing MARY LOUISE ADAMS It’s not the dancers; it’s the dance. In 1960, British critic Alexander Bland dubbed the men portrayed in the classical repertoire a ‘limp lot’, tending toward ‘prancing princes . . . [who] rely confidently on rank, elegant legs and help from the fairies’. Bland pined for ‘real blood’, for male characters who, ‘in other circumstances . . . might have been given the sheriff’s badge’. He wanted danseurs to perform bold and manly roles. He wanted to imagine them talking to ‘Achilles or Henry V or Robin Hood in their own language’. Bland admonished choreo- graphers to banish weak-kneed lovers from the stage and to create roles for a strong, hard, 20th-century masculinity. As a committed balletomane, Bland saw no contradiction in his prescription. Yet, in popular discourses, in both Britain and North America, the idea that male dancers could be drawn from or could portray a ‘two-fisted breed’ (as Bland put it) had been largely inexpressible for almost a century. Presumptions of effeminacy among male dancers have been widespread since at least the late 1800s, both inside and outside the world of dance (Burt, 1995). While artistic pursuits were once seen as compatible with upper-class European Body & Society © 2005 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 11(4): 63–86 DOI: 10.1177/1357034X05058020 www.sagepublications.com at ARIZONA STATE UNIV on June 1, 2010 http://bod.sagepub.com Downloaded from and North American masculinities, they had, by the 20th century, become thoroughly feminized within all classes. Among all the arts, dance seems to have been considered especially inappropriate for men, as Carolyn Parks noted in Dance Magazine in 1953: The American public has always looked at art in any form as suitable for its girls, but sissy for its boys . . . most shocking of all seems to be the idea that any boy should put on a pair of tights, and thus brand himself a fop. The American father howls his indignation at the thought . . . he declares he’d rather see his son dead than up on the stage cavorting with those fools . . .....
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Body and Society - http/bod.sagepub.com Body& Society...

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