Brittney Boehme, Z Chen, Kaelin Mackintire

Background Information:


Z Chen

In the 1930s, dance was growing as an art in America. Three very different styles of dance were being developed; modern dance, ballet, and swing dancing.

A major leader in the modern dance movement was Martha Graham. In fact, Graham was often called the "mother of American modern dance" (Kessel 7). She made a difference because she introduced a new style when "classical ballet technique was the most popular technique" (Kessel 29). Her new style had different movements, which was very foreign in a world full of ballet. Modern dance did not always have to seem weightless and fragile, like ballet. America eventually accepted this style and developed it even further. Now, modern is one of the most popular dance styles of all, and it all began in the 30s with Martha Graham.

A second style of dance was ballet. Although ballet already existed long before the 1930s, it really became influential in America during that time.The man responsible for this was George Balanchine. He met "Boston born dance connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein who harbored a dream: He wanted to establish an American School of Balet that would equal-even rival- the established European schools, and he wanted to establish an American ballet comapany" ("George Balanchine" paragraph 4). Balanchine thought it was an excellent idea. A few year later, in 1934, the School of American Ballet was founded. This allowed American students an education that was just as good as the education given in European schools. So, the 1930s was the year in which our country became a real contender in the world of ballet.

A final style of dance that was significant during the 30s was swing dancing. Swing is defined as a style that "flourished with jazz or swing style of music" (Nakate paragraph 1). A popular example was the lindy hop, which “is an 8-count dance and gives more importance to improvisation" (Nakate paragraph 3). A second type of swing dance was "a bouncy six beat variant... named the Jitterbug" (Heikkila paragraph 4). Anther variation was the Collegiate Shag, which "was performed with a 2-beat rhythm" (Nakate paragraph 3). Throughout the 1930s, these dances, in addition to many others, became hugely popular in America.

Martha Graham's Lamentation, performed January 8, 1930

Brittney Boehme

As the United States began to recover from the Depression they also began to “shake off European influences in order to develop its own ballet and its own modern dance, both with distinctly American themes” (Hayes 17). Soon communities began to grow along with the Country and “dance was markedly influenced by black American culture and many of the dances drew their names from famous events or personalities of the times” (Proulx par
big apple nightclub.jpg
Big Apple Nightclub

1).For example, the Jive was a ballroom dance that became known in 1934. The dance “originated in the United States from the African American” influence (“Historical Dance-Jive” par 1). The Jive “was brought to Europe around 1942 by American Soldiers, where this dance swiftly found a following among the young” (“Historical Dance- Jive” par 3). The Big Apple is another popular dance during the thirties that was wildly influenced by African American culture. The Big Apple was “a group circle dance, it gave couples the opportunity to show off, or ‘shine’” (Proulx par 4). Although danced by people of all races, “The Big Apple originated in a small southern Black town, in a church-turned-nightclub” (Proulx par 4). The Big Apple became nationally known in the summer of 1937 when “students from the University of South Carolina started dancing the Big Apple at a pavilion in Myrtle Beach” (Historical Dance-Big Apple par 5). Additionally, the name “Big Apple” came from the nightclub in which the dance was first seen performed. Later on, Betty Woods, a dancer who “first saw
roxy theatre
Roxy Theatre

the dance in Myrtle Beach, and six months later she won a dance contest and became nicknamed ‘Big Apple Betty’” (Historical Dance-Big Apple par 5). Soon the dance spread to New York and “a New York talent agent, Gae Foster, traveled to the Carolinas to audition dancers for a show at the Roxy Theater, the world's second-largest theater at that time” (Historical Dance-Big Apple par 5). Eight Couples were chosen and “they performed six shows a day to sold-out audiences and greatly contributed to the dance's popularity” (Historical Dance-Big Apple par 5).Betty Woods later brought back the Big Apple in the early 1990s. As seen, dance added to the excitement of the 1930s and the entertainment that lasted for decades later.

Brittney Boehme
1930 television.jpeg
Television made in the mid to late 1930s

As the 1930s raged on, so did innovation. The television was one of those many inventions. While the great Depression was nearing its end "17experimental televison stations emerged" ("Media in the 1930s" Thinkquest Library par 2). Of those 17
NBC.jpegexperimental stations NBC, which is also a common cable network watched today, was the Nation`s first official television station on April 30, 1939. A few weeks later "during the 1939 world fair in NY, Television was publicy introduced" draing a massive crowd interested in seeing the new invention ("Media in the 1930s" Thinkqueat Library par 2). "Television brought the power to communicate moves visually" making it easier on the public to stay informed ("Media in the 1930s" Thinkquest Library par 2).

Brittney Boehme

During the 1930s “people were fascinated by the movies themselves and by the glamorous lives of the men and women who starred in the films” ("Movies during the 1930s." Wessel`s Living History Farm, Inc par 1). Charlie Chaplin, “considered one of the most influential artists in the history of the
charlie chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
motion picture industry”, became known in the early days of the silent movie era (Hasday 5). Another remembered artist, Laurence Oliver, was chosen “to alternate roles with famed actor John Gielgud as Romeo and Mercutio in the 1936 film Romeo and Juliet” (Hasday 46). The film was said to have been a complete fail and lost a great deal of money at the box office but, Laurence Oliver was “highly praised for his portrayal of Mercutio” (Hasday 47). As seen
romeo and juliet
1936 Movie Poster "Romeo and Juliet"
the movies were an adventure in which the communities played a part in.

Click here for more information regarding Charlie Chaplin.

Brittney Boehme

As music began its roar through the decade “‘It don’t mean a thing (if it aint got that swing)’ by Duke Ellington” was recorded on February 2, 1932 (“American Cultural History 1930-1939” LSC Kingwood Library par 2). This song was later found to sum up the events of the 1930s. Meanwhile, “there were popular songs that spoke to the hardships, and the young people flocked to hear and dance to the big bands of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glen Miller, and Tommy Porsey (“American Cultural History 1930-1939” LSC Kingwood Library par 2). “In this same era (1930-1939), Broadway produced some of the most famous and lasting American Musicals” such as Jubilee, of Thee I Sing and Girl Crazy (“American Cultural History 1930-1939” LSC Kingwood Library par 2). Soon
Broadway`s 1936 "Jubilee" Advertisment Poster
the production of music became difficult as result of the economic depression. Therefore, “The Federal Music Project supported the musical arts and sponsored performances of both classical and popular compositions” (“American Cultural History 1930-1939” LSC Kingwood Library par 2).

Health and Social Connection:

Z Chen

Dance in the 1930s affected the health and social aspects of many peoples' lives.

Modern dance affected dancers' health by giving them a more positive body image. Since Graham did not think dancers had to appear thin and fragile, modern dance became a dance style for all body types. This was very different to the standards at the time for ballerinas; ballerinas had to be extremely thin and long legged. So, young dancers did not feel as pressured to have the "perfect' dancer body. Modern even changed the social scene for dancers, because "in the 1930s, black... dancers began giving... modern dance performances." (Haskins 69). This means that African American dancers were able to express themselves, and be treated with respect, through modern dance.

Dance Marathon

Swing dancing also affected health in the 1930s. Swing dancing, in some cases, was relatively simple and easy to perform. Not only professional dancers, but also regular people, loved to swing dance. These dances would often be danced at parties. Therefore, swing dancing allowed average people to have fun in a healthy way.

Finally, dance marathons relate to health and social. These were "human endurance contests in which couples danced almost non-stop for hundreds of hours (as long as a month or two) competing for money" (Becker paragraph 1). These marathons were as extremely physically grueling; contestants "were required to remain in motion (picking up one foot, then another) 45 minutes each hour" (Becker paragraph 5). For obvious reasons, these marathons were not healthy for the dancers. However, in addition to being unhealthy, dance marathons affected people socially. This is because they offered the "novelty of feeling superior (and feeling pity) to someone else" (Becker 2). This superior feeling was very relevant to the time period. After all, our nation was struggling through the Great Depression. Everyone was experiencing difficult times, and they needed something that would make them feel better than everyone else. In conclusion, dance marathons were not good for contestants but socially comforted them.

Brittney Boehme

As a result of the continuing movie frenzy, “merchants in small towns decided to show free movies to draw country folks in to town on Thursday evenings” ("Movies during the 1930s" Wessel`s Living History Farm par 2). Although the country was in an economic depression, “Hollywood entered a golden age while thousands of others struggled to find paying jobs” ("Movies during the 1930s" Wessel`s Living History Farm
Outdoor movies
1930s outdoor movie theatre
par 5). However, because of the movies and films that were produced, many people had the ability of finding “an escape from the hardships of the Great Depression, allowing a glimpse into high society life, so far from rural life.” ("Movies during the 1930s" Wessel`s Living History Farm par 1). The movies were not only a escape from the depression, but a glimpse of hope that emerged from the people.

Connection to Current or Historical Event:

Kaelin Mackintire

Dance from the 1930s has had a great impact on the dances of today. For example, Sophia Lucia, the ten-year old who just broke the world record for most consecutive pirouettes. Just like the dance marathons, Sophia Lucia had to have incredible endurance and stamina to be able to do 54 pirouettes in a row. Dance marathons were “exhausting but rewarding” just as this was for Sophia (). They learn to train through the pain so they can have the rewarding feeling after it is done. Also, modern dance, specifically from the 1930s has changed modern dance of today. For example, a dance teacher from ODC, Ms. Laura Wright, was a part of New Moon and other famous dances choreographed by Erick Hawkins. She had to have extreme technique and determination to perform. Once again this kind of determination relates to dance marathons because it takes drive and dedication to perform for the amount required for marathons. The same amount of dedication is required for performing in a famous dance company every night all over the world. Since the 1930s dance has had a major impact on dances and dancers.

Also, the dancers of the 1930s have impacted today. First, there is Martha Graham. She “revolutionized the dancing world” (Freedman 30). Her dancing abilities have been recognized around the world for her creative spin on modern dance. Many of her students, like Erick Hawkins, have continued her dancing legacy on until today. According to Martha Graham “the instrument by which the dance expresses itself is also the instrument by which life is lived: the human body” (“Martha Graham Quotes” paragraph 3). This quote shows why dance was such a popular form of entertainment from the 1930s until now. It is a way for everyone to express themselves. Students who study modern dance at schools around the world now look to Martha Graham for inspiration and technique. Lastly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers have impacted the dances and dancers because “they related with rich and poor alike” (Adler 88). Many dancers have been greatly influenced by the 1930s version of dance.
Martha Graham.jpg
Martha Graham Dance Company
Brittney Boehme

There were a great number of influences on the outcomes of World War 1 and World War 2 that may be mostly unknown to the public. Television started up mid 1930s as the go to for information on the war. “By the end of the 1930s was the source of news” bringing information in the form of entertainment. Television was the main source that the people went to for updated information (Media in the 1930s”Thinkquest Library par 2). “Television brought the power to communicate moves visually to one`s own home” making it easier and quicker to keep people updated on different events rather than wait on a newspaper (Media in the 1930s”Thinkquest Library par 2). Television changed the outcome of the wars and convinced people to donate food or other supplies to the soldiers fighting in Europe. Media impacted the world by changing the outcome of World War 1 and World War 2 informing the public during key events and keeping them out of the dark.

IB Learner Profile Connection:

Kaelin Mackintire

Dance in the 1930s mainly relates to the IB learner profile trait of communicator. Dance was a way for people to express their emotions. When people danced in the 1930s they have to be communicators, especially during dance marathons, when they dance with partners. In dance marathons and swing dances people need to communicate with their partners so they know which dance they should perform. They also need to know the counts for the dances so they do not know try to do lifts at different time, which could turn in to a disaster. Dance is based off of trust and communication so people do not get injured. Communication is a key part of dance in the 1930s mainly because of the swing dancing. Swing dancing requires jumps, flips, twists, and turns which is almost impossible without communication. Since swing was also “a test of endurance”, it made the dancers have to communicate well beforehand because one misstep could put the dancers or anyone around them in serious danger (“1930s-Significant Dances” paragraph3). Therefore, the most important IB learner profile trait is communication because of the risks that dancers take in fast dances.

Works Cited:

“1930s-Significant Dances.” Dancetime Publications. Web. 08 Apr. 2013.

Adler, Bill. Fred Astaire: A Wonderful Life: A Biography. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1987. Print.

“American Cultural History 1930-1939” LSC Kingwood Library. Web 16 April, 2013.

Becker, Paula. “Dance Marathons of the 1920s and 1930s.” N.p., 5 Aug. 2003. Web. 9 April. 2013.

Freedman, Russell. Martha Graham, A Dancer’s Life. New York: Clarion, 1998. Print.

“George Balanchine.” Nycballet. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.
Hasday, Judy L. 1957- “Extraordinary People in the Movies” New York: Children`s Press. C. 2003.

Haskins, James. Black Dance in America. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1990. Print.
Hayes Malcolm. “20s + 30s: Between the Wars” Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Pub. 2002. Print.

Heikkila, Lori. “History of Swing Dancing.” Swing History Origins of Swing Dance. N.p., n.d Web. 14 Apr. 2013.
“Historical Dance” Wikipedia Foundation, 04 October 2013. Web, 10 April 2013

Kessel, Kristin. Martha Graham. New York, New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2006. Print.
Kline, Nancy. Enjoying the Arts/ Dance. New York, New York: Richard Rosen Press, 1975. Print.

"Martha Graham Quotes." Thinkexist. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

“Media in the 1930s” Thinkquest: library, Web 12 April, 2013.

"Movies during the 1930s" Wessels Living History Farm, Inc. Web 11 Apr. 2013.

Nakate, Shashank. “Swing Dancing History.”, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.
Proulx, Lisa. "Popular Dance Styles of 1930s" eHow. Lisa Proulx. Web 15 Apr. 2013.

“The Swing Dance Era.” The Swing Dance Era. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.