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Ballet Class: An American History

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Ballet Class: An American History

Ballet Class: An American History

Surveying the state of American ballet in a 1913 issue of McClure's Magazine, author Willa Cather reported that few girls expressed any interest in taking ballet class and that those who did were hard-pressed to find anything other than dingy studios and imperious teachers. One hundred years later, ballet is everywhere. There are ballet companies large and small across the United States; ballet is commonly featured in film, television, literature, and on social media; professional ballet dancers are spokespeople for all kinds of products; nail polish companies market colors like "Ballet Slippers" and "Prima Ballerina;" and, most importantly, millions of American children have taken ballet class. Beginning with the arrival of Russian dancers like Anna Pavlova, who first toured the United States on the eve of World War I, Ballet Class: An American History explores the growth of ballet from an ancillary part of nineteenth-century musical theater, opera, and vaudeville to the quintessential extracurricular activity it is today, pursued by countless children nationwide and an integral part of twentieth-century American childhood across borders of gender, class, race, and sexuality. A social history, Ballet Class takes a new approach to the very popular subject of ballet and helps ground an art form often perceived to be elite in the experiences of regular, everyday people who spent time in barre-lined studios across the United States. Drawing on a wide variety of materials, including children's books, memoirs by professional dancers and choreographers, pedagogy manuals, and dance periodicals, in addition to archival collections and oral histories, this pathbreaking study provides a deeply-researched national perspective on the history and significance of recreational ballet class in the United States and its influence on many facets of children's lives, including gender norms, consumerism, body image, children's literature, extracurricular activities, and popular culture.

Why We Recommend Ballet Class: An American History

In Ballet Class: An American History, Professor Melissa Klapper looks at American social history through the lens of ballet classes. Initially a largely neglected hobby in America, today ballet classes are ubiquitous. By looking at the history of this movement, Klapper is able to discuss a broad set of topics ranging from a study of children’s interests through time to modern consumerism and the class issues surrounding ballet. These issues and more will be part of the discussion in the upcoming lecture at Museum of the Bible, and the insights provided in this book will enrich your understanding of American history while exploring a fascinating subject.

Size and Weight

Ballet Class: An American History measures 9.4" x 6.2" x 1.3" and weighs 1.7 lbs. It has 432 pages.


This book will be available to ship August 13, 2020. Preorder early at no extra charge. Standard shipping is 3 to 7 business days; however, please expect a delay up to 4 weeks due to staff shortages.


You may return the book in new, unused condition within 30 days of the order date for a full refund (less shipping costs).

Be Sure to Shop All Recommended Books for this Event

Explore the other books on our Women's Bible 08.20 lecture event reading list