The Evolution of Aesthetic and Expressive Dance in Boston
The Evolution of Aesthetic and Expressive Dance in Boston provides a regional history of the physical education pioneers who established the groundwork for women to participate in movement and expression. Their schools and their writing offer insights into the powerful cultural changes that were reconfiguring women’s perceptions of their bodies in motion. The book examines the history from the first successful school of ballroom dance run by Lorenzo Papanti to the establishment of the Braggiotti School by Berthe and Francesca Braggiotti (two wealthy Bostonian socialites who used their power and money to support dance in Boston). The Delsartean ideas about beauty and the expressive capacity of the body freed upper-class women to explore movement beyond social dance and to enjoy movement as artistic self expression. Their interest and pleasure in early “parlor forms” engaged them as sponsors and advocates of expressive dance. Although revolutionaries such as Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis also garnered support from Boston and New York’s social sets, in Boston the relationship of the city’s elite and its native dancers was both intimate and ongoing. The Braggiotti sisters did not use this support to embark on international tours; instead they founded a school that educated the children of their sponsors and offered performances for their own community. Although later artists, Miriam Winslow and Hans Weiner, did tour nationally and internationally, the intimate relationships they maintained with the upper echelon of Boston society required that they remain sensitive to the needs of their students and their community. Through the study of these schools, the reader is offered a unique perspective on the evolution of expressive dance as it unfolded in Boston and its environs.
Weber, Jody (2009). The Evolution of Aesthetic and Expressive Dance in Boston. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press