DETROIT – A new exhibit organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts presents more than 90 paintings, sculptures, photographs and costumes to celebrate and explain the importance of dance in American culture.
“Dance! American Art 1830-1960” opens Sunday at the Detroit museum and runs until June 12. After its Detroit run it’s scheduled to travel to the Denver Art Museum in July and to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas in October.
“Dance has such a rich history and has touched all segments of American society,” the Detroit museum’s Director Salvador Salort-Pons said in a statement. “This exhibition is not only about the representation of the art of dance, it explores how artists were inspired by how Americans move, how they interacted with each other and experienced the rhythm of music.”
The artworks help visitors explore sacred dances of indigenous North Americans, the history of African-American dancing and other kinds of dancing. Paintings from the turn of the 20th century and works by Harlem Renaissance artists are featured.
Among the works featured are: “The Jolly Flatboatmen” by George Caleb Bingham; John Singer Sargent’s “La Carmencita;” Winslow Homer’s “Summer Night;” Andy Warhol’s “Silver Clouds;” Mary Cassatt’s “Bacchante;” and nine watercolours by Diego Rivera.
The exhibit features places people dance, such as nightclubs and parties, and dances such as the jitterbug, swing and Charleston from distinct eras. Videos include historic footage and contemporary dancers discussing and demonstrating kinds of dance including ballet and tap.
“It was important for me to have the voice and expertise of dancers within the exhibition itself,” said Jane Dini, associate curator of American Painting and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and curator of the exhibition. “They help illustrate how dance as an artistic form had an enormous impact on the fine arts, especially painting and sculpture.”
In Detroit, live performances, movies, dance demonstrations and talks are planned as part of the exhibit. A preview dance party is planned. And “Dancing in the DIA,” a creative movement class, is scheduled to take place in the museum’s Great Hall.