By Naima Prevots
A little-known episode within the heritage of dance that illuminates the wider topic of cultural coverage throughout the chilly conflict period.
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Additional info for Dance for export: cultural diplomacy and the Cold War
The first dance group sponsored under Eisenhower's Emergency Fund was the José Limón Company, dispatched to Brazil and Uruguay in 1954. Like black musicians, black dance companies like Alvin Ailey's were targeted at Africa and Asia (Ailey's first tour was to Japan and Vietnam). But, as Prevots shows, despite the desperate need to counteract negative publicity abroad, the Dance Panel's own artistic standards prevented it from sending black groups overseas before the 1960s. Prevots traces the panel's long, unhappy relationship with Katherine Dunham, who never did get sponsored despite numerous applications and vocal complaints at being spurned, and its reluctance to send Pearl Primus abroad.
Today, we might take umbrage at some of the Panel's ideas and decisions, but it is instructive to see it grappling month after month with issues of artistic quality, professionalism, and representativeness, as well as to see it responding to changes in the society at large, especially at the outset of the 1960s. S. C. S. " The artists who participated in the program did so not only as performers but also as individuals, whose interactions with citizens of the host country broke down barriers between cultures and ideologies.
Diplomats in Asia, the title instantly became a household phrase. In 1948 my father receded a Guggenheim Fellowship that took my parents and me to Europe and to Israel that year. I remember going to the movies and seeing nothing but cowboys and Indians. I remember, too, how people everywhere were amazed to find that we read books, went to museums, ate in cheap restaurants, could speak French and Hebrew, and did not own a car. The shock and surprise of how others saw Americans still remains with me.