Jazz choreographer Gus Giordano's award-winning dance The Rehearsal exemplifies the fraught liminality of white middlebrow dance during the 1970s and early '80s, and the ambivalent place of works like it in US concert dance histories of the period. Middlebrow dance is a problem for critics and historians, because it is neither virtuosic nor innovative nor oppositional. Yet it is also a rich area of cultural production with considerable potential to illuminate local and regional histories of class formation, white racial consolidation, and emerging anxieties about class mobility as the economy changed from manufacturing to finance in this period. This essay examines the context, narrative arc, choreography, and movement vocabulary of The Rehearsal as a historical document, as an example of Giordano's 1970s and early '80s aesthetics, and as a pivotal moment in his career to argue for a reexamination of middlebrow dance in times of structural economic change, and to probe the dance's surprisingly biting and prescient critique of the postwar middle-class bargain exchanging prosperity and mobility for professionalism, just as that bargain was beginning to unravel.


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pp. 171-189
Launched on MUSE
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