re: Did Michael Bennett Say This?
Last Edit: Delvino 07:04 am EST 02/07/19
Posted by: Delvino 07:02 am EST 02/07/19
In reply to: Did Michael Bennett Say This? - pierce 03:46 am EST 02/07/19

Of course it's based on minstrelsy tropes. The origin of the arrangement of the dancers, the costuming, and yes, the gloves are the dance vocabulary, the visual and choreographic lexicon, of the minstrel show. Look at footage of sand dancing, of countless recreations; the internet is full of historical reference materials. The issue here is the historical source of these moves and the presentation of a chorus thus. It's an anthropological issue, and not an indictment of Bennett or Prince. Whether you "see" or "feel" some intentionality in their creative decisions is off point. (And of course, Bennett's dance setting would not be in the script; but citing the locale of "Loveland" however as a "honky-tonk," probably serves the explication of this imagery rather than proves the opposite.) In light of minstrel vocabulary entering our public discourse, a new focus has emerged: the myriad ways those images and symbols are woven into the texture of American life. Including, yes, Broadway and Hollywood musical comedy, the logical place where they would be exploited. Countless films, including "Easter Parade" employ these cues. The use of the minstrel presentation in the original "Follies" is arguably an attempt to mine an audience's recognition of the established tropes as distinctly part of our entertainment tradition, the juxtaposition of a sophisticated woman against faceless, tuxedoed and gloved dancers part of the wit of the staging. In 2019 it's simply useful to note the source of this stylization. The origin story of the lexicon. But before you indict the premise of my post, do a little of Google-ing about all of these related issues, including the white gloves. It's ahistorical to dismiss the source of any imagery simply because creators didn't consciously choose them, by the way.

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