The first news relating to the staging of danced operas in the United States concerns the staging, in Charleston, in 1735, of two ballets The adventures of Harlequin and Scaramouch and The Burgo’master Trick’d, staged by the English H. Holt. In the last years of the century. XVIII New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Charleston again hosted seasons or single performances of ballets inspired by the novelties of Noverre and Dauberval, presented by companies of foreign artists in which American professionals such as J. Durang appeared for the first time. In the romantic period, when stars of the caliber of Taglioni and Elssler they visited the United States with great success, even young American stars such as S. Maywood, M. Leeand G. Washington Smith began to establish themselves. In the twenties of the century. XIX the Scaligero C. Labassé and F. Hutin, prima ballerina of his company, introduced in the United States a more rigorously virtuosic form of classical technique and the use of pointe. In the following decades, numerous ballets that had triumphed on the European stage were introduced in the United States: among them La Sylphide (1835) and Giselle (1846), performed in Boston. At the turn of the century (1866) The Black Crook, an original form of mixed variety of music, acting, singing and small dance interludes of folkloric and ballet origin, made a name for itself with great success, contributing largely to the spread of a taste for danced performances. In addition to the refined audience of New York, the ballet could thus count on a growing following of audiences throughout the country and this also thanks to the continuous and numerous tours of foreign companies, in particular those of SP Djagilev (which arrived for the first time in 1916) and A. Pavlova. By virtue of the uniqueness of her charisma, Pavlova alone, over the course of fifteen years (1910-25), promoted the formation of an immense audience of passionate devotees.
Also in the wake of his experience, the first professional companies were formed during the 1930s. In 1929 D. Alexander founded the D. Alexander Concert Dancers company in Atlanta; in 1935, in Philadelphia, C. Littlefield created the Littlefield Ballet; in 1938, in Chicago, R. Page and B. Stone started the Page-Stone Ballet while at the same time the Christensen brothers laid the foundations, in San Francisco, for the birth of the San Francisco Ballet. Meanwhile in New York LE Kinstein and G. Balanchine collaborated in the creation of the future New York City Ballet and in 1940 L. Chase started the company of the Ballet Theater. Modern American dance owes to I. Duncan the main evolutions of the style in the name of the spontaneity of the movements, inspired by the classicism of the ancient Greeks. Still on the side of modernism – which had its major center in New York since the beginning of the twentieth century – California hosted the first professional school of modern dance, the famous Denishawn, opened in Los Angeles in 1915 by Ruth St. Denis and T Shawn. From the Denishawn company began the career of M. Graham which, through the development of new body language techniques, closely linked to the expression and emotion of the individual, will revolutionize the art and teaching of modern dance.
In California, L. Horton opened a school and in 1948 founded his Lester Horton’s Dance Theater in Los Angeles. New forms of experimentalism continued to flourish on the West Coast until the 1960s thanks to personalities such as A. Halprin, animator of a famous workshop for artists in San Francisco. Meanwhile, starting from the 1950s, a decisive movement of “regionalization” led to the establishment of a strong association of ballet companies, the National Association for Regional Ballet (founded in Atlanta in 1956) which, starting in 1973, and for a few years thanks to a generous grant from the Ford Foundation and the collaboration with the New York City Ballet by G. Balanchine, was able to count on the acquisition of numerous titles from the Balanchinian repertoire and on the consequent considerable improvements on the technical and artistic level that this collaboration introduced in ballet throughout the country. Also in the 1950s, there was a rejection by the choreographers of those psychological and narrative components of dance, in order to recover the academic technique. Merce Cunningham, Alwin Nikolais and Carolyn Carlson belonged to this current. With the attempt to bring performances closerto the movements and gestures of everyday life, starting from the Sixties the postmodern current developed with Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown and Steve Paxton. Among the quality companies, in addition to those already mentioned, we should mention the Boston Ballet, founded in 1958 by V. Williams and the Pennsylvania Ballet, founded in 1963 in Philadelphia by B. Weisberger. American dance was characterized, in the Eighties, by the use of further expressive means such as photography and video. Leading names include Mark Morris and the Momix Dance Theater. The diffusion of dance culture at university level is also very wide in the United States, and many institutes throughout the country offer degree and doctoral courses in dance disciplines.