Over the course of history, classical dance has extended across the world to galvanize social interaction and integration between people and cultures. It has withstood the test of time from generation to generation, becoming an integral foundation of culture and society. Classical dance reflects the constant confrontation between past and future, traditional and mainstream. As classical dance forms, such as Ballet and Bharatanatyam, have been faced with social changes and new cultural forces they have been recreated through hybridity, socio-cultural adaptation, and inclusion to enable their Globalization.
When classical dance forms move across space and time, they encounter new ideologies. As the environment changes, the form must continue to evolve and change to stay relevant and reflect the stories of the new individuals practicing it.
Balanchine brought ballet to the U.S. during a period of intense strife over civil rights. Living in New York, he was surrounded by African culture, specifically Jazz music and dance. The Influence of his surroundings on his approach to ballet are evident in his work, Agon.
Banes argues that in Agon, Balanchine specifically takes from an African-rooted aesthetic to create a new, distinctive style of ballet, American ballet. He introduced syncopated rhythms, curved torso, angular arms, claps and finger snaps from African American Jazz dance. This piece was also extremely progressive for its time because it featured a sensual duet between a black man and a white woman, challenging racial inequality. This shows that ballet is new and changing as it moves through time and space.
Balanchine saw classicism as a template to springboard from. By using the American culture as a stimulus for adaptation, Balanchine extended the classical and progressed ballet towards becoming a timeless art form.
The cultural implications that arise from transporting classical dance across borders stimulate a fusion of distinct traditions and styles, further expanding the confines of the classical. Globalization often leads to a new, hybrid dance form. Similar to the way Balanchine fused French and African culture to create American ballet, Rukmini Devi borrowed from the Ballet technique to create a new style of Bharatanatyam, Kalakshetra. Devi was a Brahman woman who married a British man, George Arandale and moved to the U.K. There she studied ballet as her first form of dance training, with the famous Anna Pavlova. Pavlova encouraged her to return to India and study her native dance form. Devi returns to India to study Bharata Natyam and later opens her own school, Kalakshetra, to teach the art form to upper and middle-class women. She incorporated ballet exercises in her training technique to help make the Bharatanatyman dance postures more accurate. In her article about “traditional” Indian dance, O’shea claims that The influence of ballet in Kalakshetra is not a mere accident of Devi’s personal background, but rather, a consequence of hybridization initiated by western-influenced middle and upper-class Indians.
O’shea further argued that in the post-colonial society they used western ideals (ballet) to promote approval of the national art form. This has created controversy with using the term hybridity as a positive one because it may inadvertently reinforce structures of domination in postcolonial societies, such as India. However, Hybridity has opened the doors to classical dance for many who the dance form was not originally intended for. Globalization brings cultures the opportunity to share, learn, incorporate, and influence each other. The experience of another cultural through embodiment of their classical dance form widens people’s perceptions of the world and makes them more open-minded individuals. The spread of classical dance promotes inclusion and integration. In his analysis of Creole Giselle, Gaiser recognizes that it was Balanchine’s foundation of ballet in America and appropriation of African American dance forms that created a platform for Arthur Michell to claim the hybridized technique for Dance Theatre Harlem.
This granted black bodies access to a previously white dominated world of ballet, challenging the insinuated racial codes of ballet. Classical Dance’s worldwide integration welcomes everyone to the stage. Globalization makes diverse classical dance forms accessible to people all over the world. These classical techniques are a foundation that ties people of different cultures together, yet gives them the freedom to explore the notion of self-hood by means of an ingrained bodily knowledge. The spread of classical dance forms enables individuals to explore their identity and find meaning within overlapping cultural frameworks. Intercultural practices of personal integration allow human beings to define themselves via awareness of the other. Dance is a universal language. It breaks barriers and brings people together by taking us back to our most innate form of communication, movement.