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Dance: A Very Social History

Start Date 17 December 1986
End Date 6 September 1987
Venue Metropolitan Museum of Art
Location New York, USA

Dance is a celebration. Dance is the vitality and expression that exist in all of us. Throughout history, beautiful and enticing clothes have been made for dancing, because dressing for balls and parties has been the delight of women and men since the begin­ning of time. The luxurious drama generated by the cut and the exquisite fabric of a dress enhances and echoes the dance movement. Great dresses have a spirit of their own, project­ing allure into the wearer and into the evening. A dazzling fantasy is created by lace and chiffon, brocade and lame, ribbons and paillettes. Dance and the clothing the world chooses to dance in are a response to the music, to the joy. They are a reflection of how the world was at a particular point in history, or is today. Dance re­creates the aura of a time gone by, in the care­fully mannered dignity of the minuet, the joy and languor of the waltz, the raucousness of the polka, the high energy of the turkey trot, the seductive insolence of the tango, or the boldness of the twist. Moliere said that the destiny of nations depends on the art of dancing, and his words ring true today as one senses the manner and ways of each generation in the dances it produced.

Diana Vreeland Special Consultant The Costume Institute


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