Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Derek Reid


The 20th century for dance brought forth some of the most iconic names and choreographic pieces to date. This time period also introduced the U.S. to the potential for the arts, with attention from the press guiding dance’s way into the public eye. A major focus was the idea of being American and discovering what being part of America meant and could mean in the future. Establishing a uniquely American identity became a goal of early pioneers of dance in the U.S., and the emergence of the Ballets Russes spurred development of American ballet. As American ballet found its footing, the press helped pave the way to a national dance culture. Dance criticism was quite influential in how American ballet progressed, building up the credibility of professional companies and shaping the climate for public perception of ballet in the U.S. Today, names such as Alastair Macaulay of the The New York Times, continue to inform and push readers to look at the art intellectually, emotionally and sometimes politically. The media has quickly become a tool for dance, with a two-fold role in influencing the progression of American ballet: promotion/education and communication. Through a comprehensive analysis of the history of American ballet and American dance criticism, this thesis pieces together how the foundations of American ballet and the media’s influence have contributed to the perception of dance as we know it today.