Dance Is a Weapon : NDG, 1932-1955

Dance is a weapon

In February 1932, six politically active modern dance female students formed the New Dance Group and performed during a Communist rally in Manhattan. Dancing in union and concert halls, they addressed the Great Depression's pressing national issues, from hunger to homelessness and from unemployment to racial segregation. Far from just Agitprop, they were directly connected to the New York leftist intelligentsia and gravitated towards the artistic tenets of modern aesthetics.

In 1936 the New Dance Group broke with the communist party and one of its members declared: “We were not Communists. We just believed everything they believed.” However the group kept on defending left-wing ideas. In the late 1930s the group performed in mainstream venues, initiating a process that culminated in Broadway in 1948. Therefore protest dances formed a cultural front that ultimately became politically unsustainable in the Cold War.

This book recreates the past of the New Dance Group, highlighting the interaction between dance and politics in the United States. It recalls the New Dance Group's early ties with the radical left, ties concealed by historians and dancers to protect its members. Indeed in the 1950s the Witch Hunt and McCarthyism targeted artists considered as subversive. They blocked out any in-depth study on the connections between the New Dance Group and the Communist party.