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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Choreographing Politics, Dancing Modernity: Ballet and Modern Dance in the Construction of Modern México (1919-1940)

  • Author(s): Reynoso, Jose Luis
  • Advisor(s): Foster, Susan L
  • et al.

In this dissertation, I analyze the pivotal role that ballet and modern dance played in the construction of modern México during the development of its post-revolutionary history and culture from 1919 to 1940. In this doctoral research, I approach dance as a means of knowledge production that contributes to shaping the cultural contexts in which individual and collective identities are produced while perpetuating systems of sociopolitical and economic domination and/or offering alternatives to restructure unequal power relations. As an organizing principle, this dissertation presupposes that dances always enact, explicitly and/or implicitly, sets of political assumptions that affect the bodies that participate by dancing or by watching dance. In other words, I examine how dance represents race, class, gender, and sexuality; how corporeal difference is arranged in space; what does the dance say about human relations; and how subjectivity is constructed through dance training and performing on stage. I also consider whose worldview, values and interests are enacted on stage and thereby normalized beyond the stage. In exploring these questions, I connect their answers to multiple forms that corporeal social interactions take in the formation of subjectivity at the world at large. Also, by examining specific dances and the discourses these engender, I offer various views of what it meant to be a modern Mexican across the different historical moments in which the country continually redefined and redirected its nationalist project of modernization. This discussion is framed by the various forms that México's revolutionary nationalism took as well as by cultural and political imperatives modeled by countries of the "first world".

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