The Sleeping Beauty and the story of ballet in Pennsylvania
Dancing the Fairy Tale
Producing and Performing The Sleeping Beauty
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Laura Katz Rizzo
In Dancing the Fairy Tale, Laura Katz Rizzo claims that The Sleeping Beauty is both a metaphor for ballet itself, and a powerful case study for examining ballet and its production and performance. Using Marius Petipa and Pyotr Tchaikovsky's classical dance--specifically as it was staged in Philadelphia over nearly 70 years--Katz Rizzo looks at the gendered nature of women staging, coaching, and reanimating this magnificent ballet, and well as the ongoing push-pull between tradition and innovation within the art form.
Using extensive archival research, dance analysis, and American feminist theory, Dancing the Fairy Tale places women at the center of a historical narrative to reveal how the production and performance of The Sleeping Beauty in the years between 1937 and 2002 made significant contributions to the development and establishment of an American classical ballet. Katz Rizzo highlights not only what women have done not only behind the scenes, as administrators, producers, or directors of ballet companies and schools, but also as active interpreters embodying the ballet's title role.
In the process, Katz Rizzo also emphasizes the importance of regional sites outside of locations traditionally understood as central to the development of ballet in the United States.
"Laura Katz Rizzo addresses omissions in the literature on ballet historiography by using the perpetuation of the ‘canon’ itself to critique the exclusion of the voices of women whose labor constructs the canon. Her consideration of the production and reception of The Sleeping Beauty in particular contexts provides the framework for tracing and retrieving unwritten stories. Dancing the Fairy Tale is a fascinating study in women’s creative contribution to ballet production."
"Katz Rizzo’s research is impeccable…. [This] invaluable study should be required reading for anyone interested in Philadelphia’s ballet history."
"Successfully arguing that the ballerina is the critical part of the ballet's research process and of the choreography, the author provides an enlightening discussion of the women involved in a production of Sleeping Beauty, and at the gendered nature of many facets of the production.... A fascinating, well-researched examination of women's influences on ballet production. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
Laura Katz Rizzo is the Program Director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program in Dance and an Assistant Professor of Dance at Temple University. She is also a frequent guest speaker, choreographer, and pedagogue at universities and ballet companies throughout the United States and abroad.