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date: 29 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Dorothy Arzner’s 1940 film Dance, Girl, Dance has been embraced within feminist film criticism as a stunning demonstration and critique of the “male gaze” so typical in classical Hollywood cinema. Tracing the lives and careers of two dancers, scholars argue, the film privileges strong female characters and women’s relationships with one another over heterosexual romance. Yet this essay argues that Dance, Girl, Dance is as much a film about the evolution of American dance in the twentieth century as it is about looking at women’s friendships. Juxtaposing Bubbles’s risqué burlesque routines and Judy’s sentimental divertissements with extended sequences of “modern” ballet, Dance, Girl, Dance grafts contemporary debates about the future of American dance and the meaning of American modernism onto the bodies of Bubbles, Judy, and their fellow dancers.

Keywords: Dorothy Arzner, Dance, Girl, Dance, feminist film criticism, American dance, male gaze

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