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Dance and Music, Nationalism and Ethnicity, Part 1

By Dr. Anthony Shay, 2019

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Anthony Shay

THE INTERSECTION OF DANCE AND MUSIC, NATIONALISM, AND ETHNICITY

Elsewhere, I have written about the intersection of dance, ethnicity and nationalism. (2002, 2016a, 2019) Why, then, am I writing about it yet once again? And, here, I write in the specific context of authoritarian regimes. First, many scholars have contributed to what amounts to an explosion of research and writing on the topics of ethnicity and nationalism, expanding its meanings. In the meantime, dance scholars, a scholarly field that has greatly expanded in the past quarter century, have written many new works about the intersection of all three phenomena, and the political situations that intersection creates. Since the writing of that first study (2002), I believe that these three phenomena, separately and combined, have received such a significant amount of increased scholarly attention that it will repay a more in-depth delving into the multiple ways in which these phenomena interact because there still exist lacunae in all these fields of research, some of which I will address in this study. I am specifically interested in the political aspects of how dance and choreographed mass movement, combined with spectacle, benefit authoritarian regimes in particular. Second, I realize that my own scholarly interests have been increasingly been drawn to these topics. I will argue that these phenomena are at once both ancient and modern although some scholars argue that they are found only in modern contexts. Third, I want to add the dimension of music, because in some societies music is treated differently than dance, and in some of the societies, Iran and Serbia, which I address in this study, being cases in point; certain kinds of music, like rock 'n roll and popular music have been used by younger generations to confront authoritarian regimes in very powerful ways. (See specifically my chapters on Serbia and Iran in this volume) Thus, in this study I will, in some cases, to further my point about the encounters of dance and music and how authoritarian regimes use dance and music to further their purposes and programs (Shay 2019), I will also demonstrate how countervailing political forces, often youthful political movements, confront these same regimes using music to achieve their goals (Collin 2001; Gordy 1999; Nooshin 2002; Avaz-e bi sarzamin 2016).

Although a great deal of new writing has seen the light of day, there also exist many important lacunae in all of these areas of research. For example, regarding dance in Nazi Germany, most dance research is very recent, and it focuses almost exclusively on well-known concert dance figures like Mary Wigman, Rudolf Laban, and Kurt Jooss, major creators of ausdruckstanz, a form of modern dance, as well as mass movement choreographies for Nazi rallies, and whether they were (gasp!) Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.

"Theater and music received the least attention in the three decades following World War II, and dance was almost entirely ignored until the 1980s" (Potter 2012, 154). In spite of the belated interest in research in dance activities and events of the Nazi period, that research almost exclusively addressed concert and theatre dance; folk dance, which was far more frequently featured in the gigantic Nazi Party rallies in Nuremberg and other centers because of its Volk references, folk dance received three minor mentions that I have managed to uncover in English. (Giersdorf 2013; Von Bibra 1987, 2000) I find this strange because, the Nazis, all the way into the highest echelons, were obsessed with folklore, including folk dance, as a vital link between the government and the Volk (Lixfeld 1994). Historian George L. Mosse, who lived through the period tantalizingly informs us that during the Nazi period and in the spectacles and festivals that they supported to create political excitement, "folk music and folk dancing were practiced with increasing intensity" (1975, 135). For the Nazis, as for many Europeans, delving into current manifestations of folk, dance, music, costume, and festive events was a way to discover the ancient Germanic roots, the very core of Germanness. Like many Germans, and other Europeans, the Nazi government believed that in folklore, and the performance of folk forms, resided the pure essence of the national character, a belief that had been current since the time of Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) who first popularized this concept in the eighteenth century. Thus, it is clear that much more research and writing needs to occur before the task is finished. Can we ever know who those ancient peoples were, and did they have a sense of being Germans, as the Nazi and others dreamed? The part of this book that deals with ethnicity and nationalism will probe that problem.

As I began the project, I noticed that one type of regime, above all others, supported traditional dance forms, often in spectacularized, or even newly composed variants, to symbolically represent their regimes both at home and abroad. Frequently, a dictator like Josef Stalin could establish both an elaborate system of festivals and a national dance company (The Igor Moiseyev Dance Company, known in the Soviet Union as the State Academic Ensemble of Folk Dances of the Peoples of the Soviet Union) to carry out the multiple tasks of diplomacy and the construction of ethnic and national identities with the stroke of a pen, an act largely denied to leaders of more representative forms of government (Shay 2016b; 2019). In the 1930s and beyond many Eastern European began to use dance for social as well as political uses: "Folklore, as well as folk dance started being used to define and unite the working class and to inspire artists to incorporate folk elements in their songs, tales, choreographic works, etc. This way of creating 'new folklore' was very popular and was encouraged by the Russian government. . . In just a few decades, folklore had gone from being a representation of traditions to a highly controlled means of a creating a new Soviet culture" (Petkovski 2016, 173).

One project that authoritarian governments of all stripes and categories indulge in is to connect their regimes and territories to highly visual aspects of ethnicity and nationalism to whip up public support, and at the same time suggest symbolic mass political support for the state with masses of dancers in colorful national and regional costumes. This is another reason to understand how dance, ethnicity and nationalism intersect. As I have endeavored to show in the Introduction, the term "authoritarian" has almost lost its meaning, as political scientists have come to recognize, and the term requires radical subdivision to gain sufficient meaning for a study such as this. Authoritarian regimes, more than any other type of regime that frequently use, and continue to use dance as an embodied aspect of both ethnicity and nationalism, and as in East Germany, Uzbekistan and the Philippines, such regimes continued past practices by supporting already-established state-supported dance ensembles to represent them. Therefore, in this study I want to address issues of ethnicity and nationalism in more depth than before, and to demonstrate why their links to dance become a primary visual aspect of state activities. Several new studies (Kolb 2011, Kowal et al 2017) are appearing that attempt to make the connection between dance and politics clear, but frequently they do not address the underlying issues of ethnicity and nationalism that underpin these activities.


PART 1 – DANCE

Of the three terms I use, and three phenomena that I address in this study, dance is the more readily grasped and there can be no doubt that it existed in antiquity, since it is depicted in prehistoric human cave drawings, Egyptian tomb walls, and Greek and Iranian pottery as one of mankind's earliest forms of performance, and thus I will address dance first.

Dance can usefully be described as patterned or improvised, culturally specific movements, often, but not always, accompanied by some form of music.. Dance can be found in aesthetic performances, in ritual, in social settings, and on celebratory occasions, among other contexts, including as I argue here, political settings. Dance can further be divided from other forms of patterned, rhythmic behavior found in sports and work activities by noting that an individual intends to dance, not engage in some other kind of behavior. Thus, intention to dance, and not perform another rhythmic patterned movement activity such as repetitive work, is another basic indicator of dance (Royce 1977).

While defining dance, I will argue that dance is an exclusively human activity; that which appears to be dance among non-human animal, bird and insect populations is not dance but rather these latter populations are wired to perform dance-like, patterned rhythmic movement for purposes of communication: to indicate newly-found food sources, to indicate danger, or to attract mates.

As anthropologist Anya Peterson Royce pointed out, a word for "dance" does not occur in some societies or contexts because the dance movement is so deeply embedded in the skein of ritual, music, poetry, and other elements of the event that in the emic, that is to those within a culture, or from the native viewpoint, the movement elements cannot conceptually be separated from the other segments of the performance (Royce 1977, 9-13). Dance in Polynesian societies such as Hawaii and Tonga demonstrates this principle; the movements are historically subordinate to the poetry (Hawaiian mele) and are used to enhance the meaning of the poetry. The recent revival of hula and other forms of Polynesian dance traditions has been a painstaking process to regain ethnic integrity for Hawaiians, Tongans, Cook Islanders, and others. The very performance of hula by non-Hawaiians who do not understand Hawaiian, has resulted in ethnic contestation and cultural confrontations in the Aloha State.

Dance is not equally practiced in all societies. Powerful choreophobic strains run in some societies, for example some strict, conservative religious groups such as certain fundamentalist Protestant Christian churches, or in strict Islamic regimes such as Iran under the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors, and Afghanistan under the Taliban that prohibit dancing as sinful, the performance of which can bring about awful punishments including death and severe beatings (Aldrich 2008, Jackson and Shapiro-Phim 2008; Shay 2008, Wagner 1997). Even in societies in which dance occurs, various members attempt, like rulers and clergy, attempt to restrict aspects of dance because it uses the human body, with the threats of sexual or out-of-control behavior dance movements (Shay 1999). Across, Anglo American societies, many individuals regard the performance of dance as effete, to be only indulged in by women and homosexual men (Fisher and Shay 2009). For this reason it is crucial to distinguish dance from other patterned movement systems.

As an example, one can note patterned movement in public Muslim prayers as the devout move together. Boualem Bousseloub, an informant, noted, "When a Muslim performs ablutions and prepares himself to pray, he mentally announces his intention to pray, not to perform some other activity" (personal interview February 12, 1993). Similarly, intention to dance is at the root of the meaning of dance, and to discern dance from other non-dance activities and movement systems it is important for the careful observer to distinguish between different culturally specific categories of movement. Moreover, some of these activities, such as the turning of Mevlevi dervishes or the patterned movements in the Shi'I mourning ceremonies known as 'aza-dari, are performed in sacred contexts, in which music and dance are forbidden. No matter how much these activities appear to be dance in some form to an outside observer, these rhythmic, patterned movements must not be confused with dance because many of the participants would reject the notion that their activities could be conceived of as dance, an activity that is regarded negatively by many in these choreophobic Islamic societies (And 1959, 13-22; Shay 1995, 1999). Thus, while dance almost universally occurs in most known human societies, it is not universally accepted as a legitimate or culturally desirable form of cultural expression.

Often dance reflects cultural values, therefore it is equally crucial to underscore Jane C. Desmond's important caveat that dance also forms a constitutive, not merely a reflective, element in society and in the creation of ethnicity, and for students of ethnicity, dance and movement constitute "a primary not secondary social text" (1997, 31). Certain ethnic groups and nationalistic regimes regard folk dance as a vehicle for the creation of national and ethnic identities. I argue that dance served as the same vehicle to convey ethnic and national values in both pre-modern and modern periods; the ancient Greeks of Athens distinguished between their ritual group and communal dances from the sexy "oriental, non-Greek" solo dances of professional slave performers, suitable to be performed only by non-Greek others (Lawler 1964, Shay 2016). To some degree, such attitudes toward the much more recent tsifetelli, as an oriental dance genre, and therefore repugnant to Greeks, still exist (Cowan 1990).

For example, early Asian court dances, most of ancient origins, function to reflect the cultural and aesthetic ethnic and national identities in many cultural centers in Asia, both in the pre-modern period as well as contemporary society. Most of these dance traditions originated in epic. "In Asia, cultural and social groups identify with 'national' epics – long narrative poems about the deeds of a traditional or historical hero or heroes. . . . They serve as timeless reminders of an individual's social or ethnic identity, often representing a standard against which the rest of the world and the march of current events are measured" (Chung and Hood, 1998, 160). Thus many of these dances have ancient origins, but they retain meaning for individuals in contemporary life. As Gat notes, "First, ethnogenesis and incipient nation-building usually occur in protohistorical, preliterate societies, and are therefore, mostly reflected in epic, legend, and other traditional forms of oral transmission" (2013, 240). This underscores my point that the use of dance to emphasize ethnic and national identities continue to be performed in these ancient forms because they continue to have relevance in those identities in contemporary periods.

In Japan, we find one of the oldest existing dance genres that come to us from over a thousand years ago: Bugaku. In fact, bugaku, the ritual Japanese court dance genre is probably the oldest, still-existing dance in human history. "In Japan, the legacy of medieval aristocratic warrior-class samurai culture has become part of the living epic identity of the nō drama, the puppet theater called bunraku, the courtly dances of bugaku, and the popular kabuki theater "Chung and Hood 1998, 160). All of these genres are still performed today and they continue to reflect deeply held Japanese ethnic and aesthetic values (Pronko and Hall 2016). So, definitely bugaku constitutes a pre-modern form of ritual performance dating from the sixth century CE that resonates to this day as representative of Japanese identity and aesthetics.

Briefly, Turkey serves as a good example of dance used as a political vehicle in the modern period to create a modern Turkish identity. Anatolian folk dances became a crucial vehicle in the construction of ethnicity, connecting dance with ethnicity in a very specific way. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk searched for a means of constructing a new Turkish identity, to replace a more general Muslim identity from the Ottoman period, in the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, and he and his advisors turned to two sources: Anatolian Turkish to replace the Ottoman court language as the national language, and Anatolian peasant folklore, among which dance was the most visual and dramatic element. He began a program to teach folk dances in the people's houses (halk evleri), established a system of competitions and festivals, and in every way encouraged people to dance as a form of ethnic identity and pride. In this he was very successful. (See Cefkin 1993; Öztürkmen 1992)

Ireland serves as another modern example in which strong nationalistic feelings and newly founded nationalist organizations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sought means to express strong Irish nationalistic feelings, while, at the same time, rejecting any choreographic elements they regarded as English. Like Ataturk, they turned to the Gaelic language and Irish step and set dancing as vehicles through which they could express Irishness through a series of festivals and competitions (Shay 2016a).

In the following chapters, I will demonstrate how different authoritarian governments have utilized dances of different genres, but always with national/ethnic references for purposes of building strong support for their respective nation states. This use of dance and the organization of dance activities ties these nations together, and sometimes, one leader or high state official, or an individual with ties to those individuals, borrow the idea from another political entity and tailor it to their own use, just as Dora Stratou, the founder of the Greek national company, the Dora Stratou Greek Dances Theatre saw the Yugoslav National Folk Ballet in 1952, and wanted to found a similar company for Greece (Shay 2002). The Yugoslavs took the inspiration for their professional companies from the performances of the Moiseyev Dance Company.


The Ethnic Origins of Dance

Dance intersects with ethnicity and nationalism in a wide variety of ways and in an equally broad set of venues. Many people do not connect classical ballet with ethnicity, and, in fact, so covert are ethnic markings in that dance genre that most people express the thought that ballet is above all ethnic connections and constitutes an international dance genre. This is an assumption that pioneer dance scholar Joann Kealiinohomoku effectively challenges in her seminal essay: "An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance" (1970). While many regard modern dance and ballet as transcendent, over and above any ethnic markers, Kealiinohomoku effectively demonstrates that they are ethnic forms as surely as any other dance genre and, as such, ballet reflects the values of the French Court of the Early Modern period.

Encounters of dance and ethnicity, in concerts, fairs and festivals often constitute sources of enjoyment for the participants and viewers, but occasionally also discord. For example African Americans were – and sometimes still are – told that their bodies are "not right" for ballet, suggested by a discourse that was a feature of many newspaper and periodical articles over what dance historian Thomas F. DeFrantz terms "the 'suitability' of African American dancers in ballet" (2002, 18), which began in 1944 and "continued unabated throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s" (ibid.). Thus, the blatant racism and racial stereotypes that existed in America meant, "white ballet choreographers were not obliged to consider using black dancers" (Gottschild 1996, 65).

In this essay I will argue that like all people, all forms of dance, are also derived from and embedded in ethnicity. In many dance performances the ethnic aspect can be covert or overt: during a hula performance in a tourist hotel or at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaiian ethnicity, or at least a tourist's concept of Hawaiian ethnicity, is openly on display. Among Hawaiians hula is constitutive of Hawaiian identity and was the focus of a renaissance of Hawaiian ethnic expression (Desmond 1999; 2018; Shay 2016a).

Missionaries banned and suppressed the performance of particular native dance traditions throughout much of Polynesia, "although its practice continued surreptitiously throughout the 19th century" (Kaeppler 1983, 50; See also Jonas 1992, 109-112; Chan 2016). In some instances, certain dance genres and their performers constitute an instant symbol, an icon of ethnic identity. Witness the power of association: the hula girl brings the image of aromatic blossoms, warm breezes and soft sensuality to mind, the Japanese classical dancer conjures a sense of serenity and grace, and the flamenco dancer embodies the popular picture of Spanish pride and power, bull fights and mantillas. Thus, dance can bring forth larger ethnic contexts and associations in the mind of the observer. Indeed, these and other images of dancers have been used across time and space toward several commercial, political, and social ends, such as advertising, providing symbolic support for political entities, tourism, and promoting exotic and erotic sexuality.

Tourism constitutes another major site for the intersection of ethnicity and dance, and the consumption of the "Other." Tourists view the dancing body and consume a wide spectrum of colorful ethnicities in nightclubs, festivals, and concert halls around the world (Desmond 1999; Shay 2006). "The performed body in dance has become common. . . In the Hula staging for bodily display, particular conceptions of the half-native, half-white female body are made available for visual consumption" (Urry 2002, 156), in the form of hula found in mass luaus staged for tourists that anthropologist Adrienne L. Kaeppler terms "airport art" (1983, 13). In non-tourist contexts, Hawaiians value different, often mature, full figured bodies for their skill in performance, rather than bodies that fulfill Anglo Americans' romantic fantasies of the exotic, erotic Hawaiian body (Desmond 1999). Millions of tourists attend the Smithsonian Folklife Festival each summer to consume ethnicity in the form of dance, music, food, and other folkloric presentations (Shay 2006).

In the Tewa Pueblo ritual dances in the American Southwest are performed for tourists, but they are also performed in a different, sacred context in which outsiders are not welcome, in sacred spaces; the ritual or sacred aspects of the dance performance may overshadow the manifestation of ethnicity for the performers and for many observers (Sweet 2004).

The intersection of dance and ethnicity furnishes a fecund area of scholarship, and all the more so as it invites analysis and theorizing around issues of nationalism, politics, class, race, orientalism, appropriation, authenticity, and gender and sexuality and the ways in which they relate to dance and the construction of ethnicity. Studies of dance, as embodied, non-verbal movement systems can provide cultural information and ethnic attitudes that logocentric studies cannot. For example, Kolo, the State Folk Dance Ensemble of Serbia, portrays unpopular minority groups that inhabit Serbia-Roma (Gypsies), Kosovar Albanians, and Slavic Muslims – in choreographies that show denigrating and negative ethnic portrayals and stereotypes; if rendered in words, these unflattering portrayals would indict the Serbian state, which supports this dance company, as explicitly racist (Maners 2008; Shay 2008b).

Sociologist Bryan S. Turner points out, "Dance appears to have a fundamental, or at least an enduring relationship to national culture, if not to nationalism" (2008, 220). During the Olympic Games of 2008, the Chinese choreographed and staged the opening ceremonies so that a clear message was conveyed to the millions of people who witnessed the event: only China has the resources – financial, artistic, political, and the sheer manpower – to present such a spectacle. The message that was conveyed to the vast global audience was: the twentieth century might have been the American century, but the twenty first century will be Chinese. Such a blunt message would not have been conceivable or diplomatic in words, but the more diffuse vehicle of spectacular dance and mass choreography permitted just such a message to be powerfully conveyed to the millions watching the ceremony. Thus, dance and choreographed movement can serve as a potent vehicle to carry political, national and ethnic messages that words cannot.


Ethno Identity Dance

In this study, as in many of my other studies (2016a), I look at what I call ethno identity dance, that is dance that is prepared to be presented for purposes of presentation before audiences, and that is a dance genre that has specific ethnic references. These performances are frequently formal concert presentations such as those performed by state-supported folk dance ensembles, or the performance of a group specifically designed to perform for tourists. This difference in terminology is to distinguish ethno identity dances from the forms and functions of folk dance performed in village and tribal settings, which constitutes an organic part of peoples' lives or tango performed in an informal milonga or merengue performed at a wedding, which constitutes an organic part of peoples' lives. We can recall performances of the Igor Moiseyev Ballet performing Russian dances, RiverDance with its Irish references and hula for tourist luaus in Hawaii as examples.

Ethno identity dances yields different types of information about human behavior than folk dance, for example such performances can provide scholars with information about the political priorities of specific nation states, or tensions between ethnic groups (Maners 2008). Many scholars still consider ethno identity dances improper areas of scholarly inquiry rather than as a fruitful source of human behavior that folk dance performances cannot provide. "The 'living' folklore is treated as a model to be recreated, reshaped, put on public display, and manipulated in various realms: education, politics, propaganda, economics, art, and entertainment" (Giurchescu with Bloland 1995, 52). And these scholars give these ethno identity dances the pejorative term "folklorism." Giurchescu and Bloland state "'Folklorism' is a highly institutionalized phenomena in Romania that is most commonly observed in the form of festivals and competitions. It is both a representation of and a forum for Romanian contemporary mass culture that is used by the government to disseminate official cultural policy . . . " (ibid.). But, the authors do not question why the governments do this, spending millions of dollars in doing so, as I am inquiring in this study. As a result of their hostility toward ethno identity dances, many scholars avoided the mention of state-supported folk ensembles in the most important publication in the past three decades, the International Encyclopedia of Dance (Oxford University Press, 1998). They have missed the opportunity to articulate that ethno identity dances are a separate genre of dance, and pursue a separate line of scholarly inquiry that provides the scholar with different information than the observation of folk, tribal, and vernacular dances do. Their writings frequently omit the fact that professional ensembles existed, and continue to exist, and, importantly, why governments continue to support their existence; they are expensive to maintain so one must ask why they exist. These scholars have thus deprived future generations of scholars and students crucial information about state supported dance activities and organizations and the political messages they are (Shay 2002, 2019). Thus, in this study, I will address these professional and amateur dance activities and the reasons why specific governments and regimes find their performances compelling and important as sources and forms of national representation.


Dance as a Lens of Scholarly Inquiry

And why dance, one may ask, as a lens to interrogate aspects of politics? Many individuals in the West like to think of dance, in fact of all forms of artistic expression, as apolitical: art for art's sake. In many western countries, for most of my lifetime, except for professional dancers and other dance enthusiasts, dance is experienced in three marginal and peripheral ways: 1) as a social activity, like dancing in a nightclub, a wedding, or a party, 2) as entertainment such as the dancing found in Broadway or Hollywood musicals, or 3) as high art, like attending a concert of dances by Alvin Ailey or viewing Swan Lake. Using dance and mass movement that the Chinese did in the Beijing Olympics to convey a political message would not occur to most individuals in the West, and Western governments generally avoid such demonstrations.

"It's remarkable how prevalent is the assumption that dance draws up its skirts in panicked withdrawal from anything resembling real life" (Judith Mackrell, 2004 quoted in Kolb 2011, 1). That is certainly the attitude of many of my students, who from their first childhood experiences at the ballet barre thought that they were pursuing a career in the quest for transcendence through artistic purity and revelation in dance. They are shocked to find that dance can be involved with anything as sordid as politics.

For two decades, one of my primary goals in scholarship has been, through my own writing, to spread the idea among fellow scholars that dance and movement studies, as non-verbal phenomena, can inform many social science and humanities studies that they have undertaken. And yet, as cultural studies scholar Jane C. Desmond reminded us over two decades ago, "Dance remains a greatly undervalued and undertheorized arena of bodily discourse. Its practice and its scholarship are, with rare exception, marginalized within the academy" (1997, 33). This is still largely true in spite of the explosion of dance scholarship that occurred during this period, a result of the presence of many newly minted graduates from several doctoral programs in dance studies in American and European universities that began in the last decade of the twentieth century. Our work still goes largely unrecognized outside of the field of dance studies. Literary documents still remain the primary texts for many scholars, many of whom feel unequipped to utilize and analyze movement practices as sources for their scholarly studies. Like Desmond, my work tries to demonstrate how non-verbal forms like dance and mass movement can provide a different and potentially powerful lens for looking at human behavior to augment literary texts and other sources. Again Desmond notes:

But much is to be gained by opening up cultural studies to questions of kinesthetic semiotics and by placing dance research (and by extension, human movement studies) on the agenda of cultural studies. By enlarging our studies of bodily 'texts' to include dance in all of its forms – among them social dance, theatrical performance, and ritualized movement – we can further our understandings of how social identities are signaled, formed, and negotiated through bodily movement" (ibid.).

Desmond stated her still valid reason for looking at dance as a source of revealing important aspects of human behavior that literary texts and sources often cannot: "So ubiquitous, so 'naturalized' as to be nearly unnoticed as a symbolic system, movement is a primary, not secondary, social 'text': complex, polysemous, always already meaningful, yet continuously changing. Its articulation, signals group affiliation and group differences, whether consciously performed or not. Movement serves as a marker for the production of gender, racial, ethnic, class, and national identities" (1997, 36). I strongly follow Desmond's notion in my own studies in which, as author and editor, and former dancer and choreographer, I have investigated the intersection of dance and politics (2002, 2018), dance and religion (1999, 2005, 2014), dance and gender and sexuality studies (1999, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2016), dance and ethnicity (2016), and dance and nationalism (2002, 2018) both historically and in the present. In addition, I found that exploring a wide variety of dance genres – classical ballet, modern, contemporary and postmodern concert dance, folk dance, Asian classical dance traditions, dance rituals, and social and vernacular dances – seen through the lens of dance greatly enriched the studies with which I was involved, rather than confining the studies to Eurocentric concert dance forms.


Folk and Vernacular Dance

Having conducted such studies, I would like to refine the notion proposed by Desmond, by adding to her valuable observations that various genres of dance produce different kinds of meaning for different audience members, as she noted in her studies of hula. For example, in this study I suggest that performances of various folk dances produce symbolic meaning and almost instantly have the capacity to arouse powerful emotions of ethnic and national passion simply by the appearance of the dancers, often in iconic traditional clothing and accompanying music to suggest the symbolic existence of the nation state or a specific ethnic group found in the performances of folk dance.

Farah Pahlavi, the empress of Iran, after viewing an evening of Iranian dance in a command performance of the Avaz International Dance Theatre, the company that I had founded and codirected, told the audience that "I had never thought that I would ever see my homeland again; but tonight I have" (1998) It was not unusual for audience members, with tears in their eyes, especially those who were born in the cultures we represented on stage, some of whom were in exile, how much it meant to them to experience the feeling of being home again. One Greek American friend, after seeing a choreography that I created of a Greek-American tavern, observed sardonically, "Boy, does that bring back memories." It did for me, too, because as a young adult I attended many Greek community picnics and happy evenings in tavernas in which I danced with Greek sailors on shore leave while visiting friends who belly danced in nightclubs like the Greek Village on Hollywood Boulevard, and then placed my memories on stage.

I realized that only the genre of folk dance can evoke such powerful responses because its performance evokes the deepest feelings and ethnic and national belonging, and happy childhoods. Thus, I argue that folk dance has the power to evoke strong and powerful emotions from viewer's more than more cerebral forms of concert dance like ballet and modern dance. This is not a theoretical or conceptual position that I am assuming; I have experienced the power that these dances can evoke. I have seen strong reactions countless times viewing state folk dance ensembles, sitting among audiences, both in the homeland and in the diaspora, in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Zagreb, New York and Moscow. For example, I have sat in performances watching Ballet Folklórico de México, and during the finale, audience members begin to yell "viva México!" when the mariachi band begins to play the iconic jarabe tapatío, their faces wreathed in smiles expressing national pride. National governments capitalize on these emotions.

"Spain has also been characterized by strong regional or sub-national traditions, apart from a period of centralized nationalism under General Franco. With the collapse of Spanish fascism and Spanish entry in to the European Union, dance has enjoyed a remarkable democratic period of cultural effervescence that has in turn emphasized regional differences" (Turner 2008, 221). When I was in Barcelona (November 28, 1990), in the heart of the city, I heard the distinctive sounds of the local folk dance, the sardana. An orchestra seated in front of a major department store played on a constellation of native instruments, with their distinct regional sounds, and drew hundreds of people of all ages to join in large circles, depositing their shopping bags in the center of the circle to participate in this dance that carries powerful meanings of Catalan identity. Francisco Franco (1892-1975), the Spanish dictator, attempted to forbid its performance, along with the use of the Catalan language, for decades. I have never forgotten the powerful vision of hundreds of people dancing out their identity in the busy boulevard, and looking at the rapt expressions on their faces, it was clearly a serious business. It became clear that authoritarian regimes both press certain dance traditions into service for purposes of arousing and solidifying strong nationalistic emotions, but they can also ban specific genres of dance and music as subversive and dangerous especially if they represent alternative identities as the sardana arouses Catalan rather than Spanish national feelings. As I saw with the sardana, the sounds and sights of specific folk dances can have the power to produce instant powerful emotions.

Since there was no widespread popular political support for most of these twentieth-century authoritarian regimes – in Greece, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain, Germany, and the Soviet Union, among others—symbolic support had to be created. And what better symbol was made available than large-scale festivals in which thousands of peasants, dressed in their colorful festive costumes, performed their native dances and music in spectacularized settings? Large numbers of peasants could easily be brought to the large cities by trains and buses, perform, be given a free lunch and sent home. The sites in which they appeared were frequently enormous, Olympic-size stadiums in the principal cities of the respective nation-state, but also "Festivals, parades, competitions, local houses of culture, and amateur troupes at various levels of support, proficiency, and national visibility provided places and moments, hooks on which to hang the acceptable forms of music- [and dance-] making" (Slobin 1996, 3; see also Dietzfelbinger 1996; Schmidt and Urban 2009). The peasant, then, became the perfect stand-in for the nation as a whole, and their performances of traditional dances served as a visual symbol of mass support for non-democratic regimes of all political stripes that claimed the nostalgia and innocence of the Golden Era of the Nation, featuring the Pure Peasant as the symbolic basis of their often-violent regimes (For Greece, see Loutzaki 2008, for Germany, von Bibra 1987, 379–82, for the USSR, Miller 1990). Folklore was selected by these governments, like the Soviet Union, because of the popularity of folklore that existed prior to the Revolution from the influence of Romantic nationalism that valorized the creative expression of the peasantry. Mass folkloric displays of folk dance and music served as the vehicle for demonstrating their popularity with the masses. These regimes varied but what they had in common was that they utilized spectacularized performances of peasants and other rural populations to symbolically imply support for their regimes.

While addressing issues of ethnicity and nationalism, the focus of those books and essays was about the details of how those companies were founded, how governments, such as that of the former Soviet Union used these dance ensembles as political vehicles, how the ensembles selected their dancers, how they were funded, costumes and music, and importantly, to what degree did the directors incorporate authentic elements into their choreographies and stagings, which were focused more on aesthetic issues, as well as the historic contexts in which the companies were founded and developed. All of these questions can be usefully posed for state-supported professional folk dance companies because each of them faces all of these issues.

In addition, many of these same governments, which I addressed in those publications, supported and financed an extensive network of amateur dance companies, including village-based groups, and the governments financed them to the degree of providing them with space to rehearse, stipends for the director, purchasing costumes and musical instruments and providing performance opportunities. They also provided the directors of these amateur ensembles with workshops in which they demonstrated the ways in which they wished these ensembles to appear as demonstrated by the experts, often the directors of the respective professional state folk dance ensembles. I attended several of these in Croatia where each year the workshop focused on specific regions. Of course, these circumstances were different in each nation, and in some them, such as Hungary and the former Soviet Union, such activities existed prior to World War II, but they were ever-present in Eastern Europe after the war. In other words, different governments and regimes found in dance, particularly what is commonly thought to be "folk dance" as an ideal political vehicle to send specific cultural and political messages at home and abroad. This is specifically the case because dance and other forms of choreographed mass movement can send messages that would not be acceptable or diplomatic expressed in words as we saw in the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics of 2008.

Many of these same authoritarian governments often supported, and continue to support, an extensive festival calendar that features amateur and professional ensembles, village dance groups, and folk dance and music were at the center of these colorful regional and national gatherings. In Nazi Germany, festivals held in spectacular settings, like Nurnberg were central to that authoritarian regime: "The national monument and the 'sacred space' which was often constructed around it were the setting for many public festivals. Such festivals became essential to the political style of National Socialism. . . " (Mosse 1975, 73), of which German folk dances were an important feature. These activities were considered suitable to occupy the thousands of youthful members of these companies, as well as supporting the performance of folklore, which fed the nationalistic fervor that characterized the various nation states, particularly in Eastern Europe, but in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East as well.

The directors and choreographers of these professional, and the many amateur companies that emulated them, including two that I founded and directed in the United States (AMAN and AVAZ), prepared these dances for the stage for purposes of representation. More recently, I wrote a second study that interrogated the intersection of dance and politics focused on a specific case, that of the Igor Moiseyev Dance Company, of the former Soviet Union, and the way in which Josef Stalin's regime sponsored the creation of the Igor Moiseyev Dance Company, officially labeled as the State Academic Ensemble of Folk Dances of the Peoples of the USSR (2019). I looked at the history of the Igor Moiseyev Dance Company through the lenses of Russian nationalism, spectacle, and the Cultural Cold War, in which Igor Moiseyev's creation of a new dance genre, misleadingly labeled as "folk dance" because the former Soviet Union valorized peasant workers. These so-called folk dances, which can be labeled in Hobsbawm and Ranger's (1983) terms as a form of invented tradition for which I coined the term "ethno identity dances," that is, dances specifically prepared for purposes of representation for a variety of reasons and that have specific ethnic references to differentiate them from authentic folk dances (2019).

While preparing those studies, it became abundantly clear that the majority of spectacularized folk dance activities were subsidized by various forms of authoritarian regimes. These various nation states above all wanted ethno identity dances, rather than authentic folk dances because ethno identity dances lent themselves to spectacularization and theatricalization and these states had a desire for spectacle and monumentality (Shay 2019). A quick visit to the Youtube will demonstrate to the interested observer how regimes such as those of North Korea and China sponsor such performance, which symbolically demonstrate popular support for those regimes. The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games provide a particularly arresting example of spectacle, and it is clear that the Chinese government expended millions of dollars, and thousands of man hours, to create the special effects that awed the billion viewers of television.

In those studies, in specifically choreographic terms, I describe and analyze how choreographers spectacularize folk dance through the use of synchronization of large numbers of dancers, utilizing mass movement strategies, using new and different formations, floor patterns, and other staging strategies, steps and figures that require professional dancers to perform movements well-beyond the capacity of actual peasants to perform, using classical ballet movements and techniques. Some companies, like the Igor Moiseyev Dance Company use athletic and gymnastic movements, well beyond the capacity of many professional dancers much less the rural populations they purport to represent, spectacularized costumes and music, and special lighting effects, all of which are not generally seen or available to the performers who perform the authentic versions of these dances to which the ethno identity dances refer. Most of these companies, including my own, had large numbers of performers, dancers, singers, and musicians, frequently numbering nearly one hundred performers. (Shay 2002, 2019


Authoritarianism and Dance

As I looked more closely at the political array of states, which utilized these dance companies, one political type of nation state seemed more inclined to create national dance ensembles or use traditional dances for political, nationalistic, and economic purposes: authoritarian states. Regimes like Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union, the Philippines under Marcos, China, the Dominican Republic under Trujillo, Argentina, Turkey under Ataturk, and Iran during the Pahlavi regime, among others, all of which supported folk and vernacular dances, most frequently in their ethno identity forms. These states, of course, differ markedly from one another, and yet, they have many elements in common, one of which is the use and display of folk and vernacular dance and for political purposes. In addition, and in conjunction with the use of folk dance as spectacle, these states made political use of ethnic and national identities, which these dance companies colorfully embodied. I will describe and analyze the particular authoritarian states and regimes that I have chosen to illustrate the points I wish to make, in detail and describe and analyze how they utilized dance, and which genres of dance they found most effective for their political purposes. I will write separate chapters on the interrelated topics of ethnicity and nationalism, especially focusing on how individuals come to acquire and/or lose their ethnic or national identities and acquire new ones, and how ethnic groups come into being (ethnogenesis).

In this study I will take as examples a wide variety of authoritarian states that have used folk and vernacular dances in the political service of the state. They will include dictatorships, fascist states, kingdoms, military regimes, and former communist regimes, among others, that I will introduce later in this essay. One particular type of regime stood out among the nondemocratic governments that have singled out dance as a favorite political tool: what Max Weber first identified as sultanism (Gerth and Mills 1946, 442-444), but his notion was greatly elaborated as sultanistic regimes by H. E. Chehabi and Juan J. Linz (1998), that I will use as a conceptual lens to look at a particular type of authoritarian regime that utilized dance as a political and diplomatic tool to legitimate their regimes.

There are many political and economic purposes to which specific regimes put dance to use particularly through professional folk dance ensembles: as propaganda to show, symbolically, mass support for the state or a particular regime to show that life is good under their rule, to send the company abroad, dressed up in their Sunday clothes, for diplomatic purposes, for tourist dollars, for earning cash through the ensemble's performances. It is difficult to avoid attending a luau with attendant hula performance for tourists who visit the Hawaiian Islands. Anyone who has visited Mexico City knows that an evening attending a Ballet Folklórico de México is at the top of the list of tourist attractions.

Professional folk dance ensembles show the nation in its rainbow ethnicity for home audiences, to create, shape and arouse positive images of national or ethnic identities, to arouse feelings of patriotism and belonging to the nation state and creating feelings of nostalgia from a purportedly Golden Age in the national memory. Because these regimes found these reasons compelling, the regimes that followed, especially after the collapse of the former authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe, for the most part, kept supporting these ensembles, and continue to do so.

At this point I need to state that the establishment and maintenance of these often very massive dance companies is extremely expensive, running into millions of dollars. The state needs to pay for the salaries and benefits of all of the directors, dancers, musicians, administrative personnel, technicians, costumers and wardrobe personnel, cleaning crews, among others. The state needs to provide rehearsal and performance spaces, administrative offices, costumes and costume storage, musical instruments, props, and other performance necessities. They also need to pay for all of the required travel expenses, publicity costs, including publications, printing, music and video recordings, among other expenses. Having served as artistic director for two successful dance ensembles, and interviewing and conducting research on several professional and amateur dance companies, I am familiar with the kinds of costs that they incur. In the Eastern Europe prior to the fall of communism, the costs of these ensembles, in addition to the classical establishment of opera, symphony orchestras, and theatre, would have consumed a considerable amount of the national budget.

These nation states used folklore in general, and more specifically they used folk dance as a political vehicle not only to reflect political ideologies, national priorities and national identities, but also to proactively create nationalist sentiments and strengthen national identities through viewing and participating in dance. Folk dance and the rural populations who performed them were seen as wholesome, the pure essence of the nation, expressing a kind of innocence that ideally represented the nation. Later, these nation states sought something beyond the performance of folk dances by peasants. Folk dance, in our case ethno-identity dances, had to be spectacular to be effective as David Guss (2000) argues.

Dance historians Nancy Reynolds and Malcolm McCormick note that in the 1930s "Dance had a new function, to serve the state. Such a climate led to the virtual canonization of folk dance as the true expression of the people" (254). The Soviet government began to valorize folk dance by 1930, and the government took a series of steps, including the construction of large cultural houses in cities large and small all over the Soviet Union. These were frequently located in parks and supported all kinds of amateur activities, including an entire system of amateur folk dancing. "As a result of the emphasis given to national cultures in the mid-1930s, folk dance groups sprouted in hundreds of towns and cities, with even the NKVD [the KBG predecessor agency] having its own Song and Dance Ensemble" (Swift 241). Millions of people participated in these amateur dance companies. In the course of three trips to the former Soviet Union (1976, 1979, 1989), I visited several of these cultural houses and witnessed folk dance, ballroom dance, and other activities. I also visited and viewed performances and rehearsals of the State Folk Dance Ensembles of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

These activities culminated in the dekady, in which Moiseyev was involved, and then, in 1936, the government sponsored a huge All-Union folk dance festival with "1200 dancers and 58 dance groups. They performed more than 200 folk dances of 42 national groups of the Soviet Union [...] the director of the festival was the young choreographer I. Moiseyev who organized the massive holiday on Red Square" (Filanovsakaya 217–18).

The sheer volume and number of performances of folk music and dance could be staggering: "Every year in the USSR, approximately eleven thousand professional folklore collectives give over four million performances, attended by more than five hundred million people" (Miller 1990, 3). Outside of the U.S.S.R., throughout Eastern Europe, and in countries like Turkey, which had a huge nation-wide following, the number was multiplied (Shay 2002).

In the earlier part of the twentieth-century, many of these government made official efforts to valorize peasants and their material and cultural production was also designed to familiarize the urban populations with authentic folk traditions, and to garner respect for authentic peasant dances, music, and clothing, and to turn urban attention away from the "decedent" urban popular music dances such as the fox trot, and later rock 'n roll, that originated in the United States, England, and France. But, during the 1930s and beyond, the various governments, through departments, schools, ministries of culture, and publications, began to dictate just what folklore was to consist of – an official folklore was created, and the creation of a new folk dance genre. (See Zemtsovsky and Kunenbaeva 1994; Zhornitskaya 1979) They supported this through the creation of folklore departments that employed professional folklorists to gather folk songs, tales, dances, and other forms of creative expression, establishing ethnographic museums, and establishing a system of festivals, publications, and later a system of amateur and professional folk dance ensembles to represent the nation state at home and abroad.

By contrast, contemporary or modern dance, in order to produce meaning, must rely on the content of the specific work to produce meaning, and then, as with other forms of contemporary and modern art, many spectators fail "to get" the implied meaning. Such works often appeal to a special intelligentsia in many nation states. Lívia Fuchs noted that in Hungary audiences frequently rejected modern dance: "The audience, used to choreographies with a plot featuring heroes, demanded works that were familiar in structure and easy to understand, and was at a complete loss with his new ideas" (2000, 87). Dance scholars often associate modern and post-modern dance with revolutionary ideas. Interestingly, in Hungary it was staged folk dance, under the influence of the tanzhaz (dance house) movement, in which Hungarian youth attempted to recuperate authentic folk music and dance, rather than modern dance, that underwent dramatic change: "The question asked by this generation in revolt in the second half of the century was: how could folk dance material be staged and be simultaneously 'authentic and 'contemporary'?" (Fuchs 2000, 88). Artists like Sándor Tímár, taking the reins of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, scrapped the four-part chorus with the Bartok and Kodaly choral arrangements, used more authentic smaller instrumental ensembles and had the dancers sing in village voice style in place of the bel canto style favored by the former chorus, and stripped the spectacularized choreographies to reflect village practices. This music and dance revolt under the authoritarian Communist regime did not only take place in Hungary, but had deep repercussions that continue to reverberate in neighboring Rumania [sic] and Slovakia as well (Feinberg 2018; Quigley 2014).

The case of the intervention of the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, in the Spanish dance scene is not an exception, as we will see in succeeding chapters, but the rule. Stalin and Hitler and other high ranking officials in their regimes, notably made micro decisions surrounding the appearances and meanings that folk dance and music were to have in their regimes, many of which continue today (Lixfeld 1994; Karina and Kant 2004; Miller 1990; Shay 2018; Slobin 1996).

Returning to the Franco regime's use of dance and music, "A study of dance in Spain also illuminates the question of nationalism. . . The Franco era promoted a centralized Spanish nationalism that smothered other forms of expression in culture, art, language and history – a nationalism exemplified in the dance world by the Coros y Danzas (Chorus and Dance Division of the Sección Femenina" (Mon&233;s et al 2000, 144). The Sección Femenina was the Franco's Falange Party's Women's Division that promoted the use of Spanish folk dance and music and served as the umbrella for a widespread system of festivals to demonstrate symbolic support for Franco's regime. (See Escudero 1984 and Echagűe 1963) "After the Civil War, the Sección Femenina of the one political party that existed under Franco's dictatorship (The Spanish Falange) decided to commission the women of the Coros y Danzas (a department of the Music Division) to compile information about folk dance" (Monés et al 2000, 152). These women were not trained dance ethnologists, but amateur enthusiasts, but their compilations proved valuable for the study of Spanish folk dance. "The hidden intention behind this recuperation of folk culture was to promote an idea of unity in a politically and socially divided country, through such nationalist acts as the recuperation of traditions involving music and dance" (ibid.). This motive for the political use of folk dance was not restricted to Spain. Multiethnic states as politically diverse as Ghana, the Philippines, and the former Soviet Union frequently supported, and in some cases continue to support professional national folk dance companies that show their respective nation states in a rainbow of ethnic color to symbolize the unity of the state (Feinberg 2018; Schauert 2015; Shay 2002, 2018).

In Spain, "The Feminine Division's Choruses and Dances worked on this project [documenting regional folk dances] for Under Franco's regime for forty years (1937-1977)" (Monés et al 2000, 152). The result of all of this decades-long and extensive activity in folk dance had a huge impact on dance performance to this day: "Since its presence was spread out across the whole of the national area (in 1960 it comprised 24,000 members in 1600 groups), most dance professionals in Spain at present have had some form of direct or indirect contact with the Choruses and Dances" (ibid.). Basque, Galician, and especially Catalan language and identity were repressed, which included the performance of certain dances and thus, "One should also mention that in some regions such as Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country, folk dance groups were formed in opposition groups to the Franco regime. . ." (ibid.). It would be difficult for me to imagine the leaders or the government of the United States expressing interest in folk dance or music, or even in the arts, except on a personal level.

In addition, as I have stressed in other studies (2002, 2018), authoritarian political regimes lean toward the grandiose and the monumental – in architecture, in the arts, in dance. The use of spectacle works like a drug on their leaders and many viewers. In the Spanish case, Franco's government utilized esquela bolera, a theatrical form that mixes ballet and folk dance as a form of ethno identity dance: "The Choruses and Dances have influenced and been influenced by the esquela bolera, and have used its repertory, with steps and dances from the escuela bolera described as 'typical' steps and folk dances from Madrid and Andalusia in existing documents about them. These went on to be danced at folk festivals as 'traditional' Spanish dances" (Monés et al 2000, 153). Thus, the use of ballet-informed movements can add an element of spectacularized and virtuosic movements, that do not exist in the authentic versions of a folk or vernacular dance, in order to create a more spectacular effect in performances that has come to characterize ethno identity dances, dances created for public representation, that has come to characterize these staged folk dances since the establishment of the Igor Moiseyev Dance Company in 1937.

Josip Broz Tito's regime in Yugoslavia, as equally ethnically divided as Spain, and his government promoted a similar program after the Second World War. He followed a model that was built on the Soviet Union since the 1930s when the soviet state instituted an official folklore that, like Spain, comprised hundreds of thousands of participants, at the apex of which each nation state founded a professional state-supported folk dance ensemble that performed the official version of state folklore. In order to display multiethnic solidarity, to create a Yugoslav rather than regional Serbian, Croatian or Macedonian identity, the Yugoslav government required the three professional ensembles, Kolo (Serbia), Lado (Croatia), and Tanec (Macedonia), to label themselves the Yugoslav National Ballet and to perform all-Yugoslav programs, encompassing the dances of the various republics when touring abroad, even though these ensembles often had all-Serbian, all-Croatian, and all-Macedonian repertoires when dancing in their respective home republics. When Yugoslavia fell apart, the three ensembles immediately reverted to performing only the dances of their respective republics and the costumes from the other republics were sent into mothballs.

As Alexandra Kolb notes of folk dance in China, which also has a state folk dance ensemble, "The styles were significantly refined and repackaged . . . their material was considerably aestheticized and smoothed over when converted into stage works" (2017, 353), indicating what a widespread practice the spectacularization of folk dance became in many areas of the world.

By focusing on dance I do not wish to imply that other forms of artistic expression were neglected by authoritarian regimes. On the contrary, authoritarian regimes attempt to control most forms of artistic expression, like music, sculpture, painting, theatre and architecture. In a few cases, particularly in Islamic countries, dance can be viewed as shameful to perform in public, in comparison to other forms of artistic expression, and can evoke negative reactions. In Iran dance is a banned activity, even the word dance (raqs), which "was seen as the worst possible behavior of an undisciplined body in public, and symbol of all vice" (Stellar 2011, 235) is forbidden and traditional solo improvised dance, for which the state can flog those who perform it even in private, has been replaced by a clunky form of mass movement performances in truly ugly costumes, paradoxically called "harmonious movements" (harakat-e mowzun), the performances of which are carefully controlled by the authoritarian theocracy of the Islamic Republic to guard against any whiff of sensuality (Meftahi 2016; Stellar 2011). (For architecture see Bown 1991, for music see Buch et al 2016; Randall 2005; Slobin 1996; Siamdoust 2017; national monuments Bown 1991; Mosse 1975; theater Van Steen 2015)

The Pahlavi regime in Iran used and developed a similar mixture of traditional movements mixed with ballet, which the Fine Arts Administration (later Ministry of Fine Arts) came to label "national dance" (raqs-e melli) that was used in spectacularized choreographies performed by the two national state-supported professional companies, that also performed staged ethno identity folk dances. (Meftahi 2016a, 2016b)

One of the most interesting aspects about all of these companies is the emphasis that they place on the degree to which they incorporate authenticity in their choreographies. They often show photographs of the directors conducting field research, or write about it in the program notes. (Shay 2008, 2018) No matter how spectacularized, the official propaganda about these countries stressed authenticity.

While preparing this study, it became abundantly clear that the majority of spectacularized folk dance activities were subsidized by various forms of authoritarian regimes. These various nation states above all wanted ethno identity dances, rather than authentic folk dances because ethno identity dances lent themselves to spectacularization and theatricalization and these states had a desire for spectacle and monumentality (Shay 2019). A quick visit to the Youtube, which has dozens of examples, will demonstrate to the interested observer how regimes such as those of North Korea and China sponsor such performance, which symbolically demonstrate popular support for those regimes. The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games provide a particularly arresting example, and it is clear that the Chinese government expended millions of dollars to create the special effects that awed the billion viewers of television.

In my study of the Moiseyev Dance Ensemble, in specifically choreographic terms, I describe and analyze how he and other choreographers spectacularize folk dance through the use of synchronization of large numbers of dancers, utilizing mass movement strategies, using new and different formations, floor patterns, and other staging strategies, steps and figures that require professional dancers to perform movements well-beyond the capacity of actual peasants to perform, using classical ballet movements and techniques. Some companies, like the Igor Moiseyev Dance Company use athletic and gymnastic movements, well beyond the capacity of many professional dancers much less the rural populations they purport to represent, spectacularized costumes and music, and special lighting effects, all of which are not generally seen or available to the performers who perform the authentic versions of these dances to which the ethno identity dances refer. Most of these companies, including my own, had large numbers of performers, dancers, singers, and musicians, frequently numbering nearly one hundred performers.

As I looked more closely at the political array of states, which utilized these dance companies, one political type of nation state seemed more inclined to create national dance ensembles or use traditional dances for political, nationalistic, and economic purposes: authoritarian states. Regimes like Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union, the Philippines under Marcos, China, the Dominican Republic under Trujillo, Argentina, Turkey under Ataturk, and Iran during the Pahlavi regime, among others, all of which supported folk and vernacular dances, most frequently in their ethno identity forms. These states, of course, differ markedly from one another, and yet, they have many elements in common, one of which is the use and display of folk and vernacular dance and for political purposes. In addition, and in conjunction with the use of folk dance as spectacle, these states made political use of ethnic and national identities, which these dance companies colorfully embodied. I will describe and analyze the particular authoritarian states and regimes that I have chosen to illustrate the points I wish to make, in detail and describe and analyze how they utilized dance, and which genres of dance they found most effective for their political purposes. I will write separate chapters on the interrelated topics of ethnicity and nationalism, especially focusing on how individuals come to acquire and/or lose their ethnic or national identities and acquire new ones, and how ethnic groups come into being (ethnogenesis) and how, like Burgundians, Goths, Vandals, and Batavians, they fade from historical memories.


(To be continued in Part 2)


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