American Abstract V. European Story

Why is modern American dance abstract while European dance is largely narrative, asks Joan Acocella? “For the most part, our choreographers have been modernists, in the Clement Greenbergian sense. Their primary concern has been their medium, dance. While all that was coalescing over here, people in Europe were voting huge subsidies for the arts, which were part of their national pride. They were also living lives different from ours. In the First and Second World Wars, the Europeans saw their universe laid waste, as we did not. Consequently, I believe, many of them could not give up representation, narration. They had to keep talking about the modern world, trying to figure out how it turned out the way it did.”