När dansen blev modern : Framväxt, formering och förändring av ett svenskt konstområde, 1930-1960

Sammanfattning: This dissertation, When Dance Became Modern (När dansen blev modern), deals with theatrical dance in Sweden between 1930 and 1960 from a historiographical perspective and assumes that dance is interwoven with socio-cultural contexts. The aim is to investigate what factors create the conditions for certain genres and aesthetics to emerge.The historiographical narrative that the investigation departs is largely concentrated on the Royal Theater. A narrative has been consolidated where the 1930s and 1940s are described as a period of decline in contrast to the radical change of the 1950s. The historiography is based on historiographical theories and methods where turning points are the focus, contrasts are identified, and the development of events is uneven. The thesis reviews the history of dance that contrasts traditional views of dance with an emerging, new aesthetic of dance–i.e., the traditional versus the modern.My point of departure is that when dance is established as an art form, it is woven together with various aspects of the emerging modernity. Therefore, how the field of dance, as a profession and aesthetics, took shape is examined. I highlight relationships other than purely aesthetic ones and also consider various genre expressions as part of the modern. Here, the framework includes modernity’s social changes, national cultural policy ideas, and in some cases the ideas within, for example, the translocal dance field.The intention to identify and analyze several contemporary phenomena in the sphere of dance has necessitated different types of sources. The empirical material consists largely of reviews, articles, program leaflets, and posters, but statutes and protocols are also used. Additional sources are dance history books, biographies, and memoirs as well as etymological books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and legal texts and government investigations. Finally, the empirical material includes choreography in film and some interviews.In the thesis, I use a cultural theory model that combines three methodological approaches with associated methods: interviews, discourse analysis, and analysis of the historical context. The purpose of the multidimensional method is to create a space for agency for the individual that is both part of the discursive mediation and the socio-cultural context. Hence, I show how discourses about dance and the historical context work together to create “the modern” in dance.This study shows that many actors in different constellations collaborate to develop new structures that support “modern” ideas about dance, albeit these are often unstable constellations. During this period of change, professional categories such as dancer, choreographer, dance pedagogue, and dance critic crystallize as specialist areas. Transnational exchange takes place through international guest performances and through the dance practitioners who further their education and participate in competitions. Dichotomies between dance genres, aesthetic view, and different dance skills appear as the boundaries are constantly challenged and transgressed. Performance conventions change and ballet takes on a central role through full-length performances at the Royal Theater as well as touring that far exceeded that of the free dance movement. A significant expression of the modern is that the relationship between seemingly opposite positions is recurrently relevant in the dance field’s establishment phase.

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