Anne SearcyApr 9, 2021
Ballet in the Cold War
A Soviet-American Exchange
Oxford University Press 2020
During the Cold War, cultural diplomacy was one way that the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union tried to cultivate goodwill towards their countries. As Anne Searcy explains in her book, Ballet in the Cold War: A Soviet-American Exchange (Oxford University Press, 2020), dance was part of this effort. She focuses on two tours of the USSR undertaken by American troupes when the American Ballet Company visited the Soviets in 1960, and when choreographer George Balanchine returned to the country of his birth in 1962 with his New York City Ballet Company. These popular tours functioned as an important symbolic meeting point for Soviet and American officials, creating goodwill and normalizing relations between the two countries in an era when nuclear conflict was a real threat. Although geo-political tensions feature in the book, Searcy is just as concerned with the reception of these tours by Soviet and American critics, and how they filtered their opinions on the dances and performers they saw through local aesthetic debates, tinged by political realities.
Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.