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date: 01 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the translation of Shakespeare’s works into dance functions as a rite of passage for twentieth-century choreographers, one that offers the opportunity for dance makers to place themselves in the “great man” genealogy inherent in the Western literary canon and to influence, even reshape, that canon through an alternative lexicon. Focusing specifically on George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this chapter argues that Balanchine uses Shakespeare’s work and experimentation with language as the inspiration to create a unique form of dance narrative—one that uses the lexicon of technical steps (rather than the approximations of mime) to relate the play’s narrative and thematic structures. In doing so, Balanchine’s work participates significantly in the intertextual construct of “Shakespeare,” one composed through myriad artistic and communicative vectors of which dance has been an undervalued part.

Keywords: Balanchine, Shakespeare, translation, ballet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, language

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