Artist Identity and Allegiance: National vs. Imagined Communities
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The majority of large dance companies are sponsored by their government, and have traditionally upheld and even spread propaganda relating to issues of the state and national heritage. Therefore, national and artist identities have been intertwined and have complimented one another throughout history. However, in the modern day of globalization many of the "national" dance companies that represent their home nations in the international arena are in fact made up of dancers from a variety of different countries. Some of these companies have a greater percentage of international dancers than national ones (eg. Nederlands Dans Theater.) Foreign dancers in national ballet companies from Europe have a stronger connection to their artistic identity than their national identity, according to overwhelming responses in a series of interviews. The few dancers who did not feel this way appeared to have a stronger sense for nationality and were the most integrated into their foreign countries of the group (ie. dating a local, speaking the language, living there for longer periods of time.) The strong connection between dancers seemed to bridge the national divide between them in most cases. However, the division that occurred between types of dancers (contemporary vs. classical) was the most pronounced and far surpassed that of nationality. The inclusion and exclusion of particular companies from international dance festivals (sponsored by individual states) revealed a telling divide in the artist community that simultaneously bridged divides of culture and nationality.