Analysing The History Of Dance White Nights Film Studies Essay

White Nights is a 1985 movie set sometime after the start of the Cold War. It stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren and Isabella Rossellini. Nikolai Rodchenko, played by Baryshnikov, is a Russian terpsichorean who leaves the Soviet Union and flees to the United States. On a flight to Japan, his plane malfunctions and makes an exigency landing in a Russian military airbase. There, Nikolai is recognized and is stopped from returning to America by the KGB, the Russian secret constabulary. Raymond Greenwood, played by Gregory Hines, an Afro-american pat terpsichorean who, on the contrary, defected to the Soviet Union. The KGB undertakings Greenwood with the occupation of converting Nikolai to remain in Russia. Finally, both work forces decide to fly the Soviet Union and return to America.

The movie touches on many societal, political and cultural issues faced during the Cold War period, and highlights the factors that influenced dance at that clip, and how danced influenced the universe in return. This essay will discourse the types of dances seen in the movie, the subjugation of freedom and look and will besides cover of import issues, such as why the KGB refused to let Nikolai safe transition back to the United States. The first half of this paper will touch on the more proficient facets of the movie, while the ulterior half will touch more on the emotional, societal and cultural facets of the movie, in relation to dance.

It is of import to understand the societal and political conditions in Russia during the clip when the movie was set. The Cold War ensued as the universe was retrieving from the amendss of the Second World War. Joseph Stalin ruled communist Russia during the first few old ages of the cold war, until his decease in 1953. Nikita Khrushchev succeeded him. Even though Khrushchev was more broad with respects to the humanistic disciplines, anything that was violative ( and many things were deemed violative still ) was purged. On the contrary, America was traveling in the opposite way. Democracy was emerging and the freedom of look was being explored more and more. This sets the base of the analysis of this movie, and how these different political and cultural bases affected dance will be elaborated on later.

The gap scene is that of Nikolai executing in the United States. The modern dance piece involved a great mixture of influences from many different terpsichoreans and dances. In Nikolai ‘s public presentation, concert dance was assorted up with more unconventional dance motions, such as flinging a chair in defeat and hanging himself. It was a superb show of trifle and of emotion. Influential terpsichoreans during the mid-20th Century include Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. Humphrey ‘s “ autumn and recovery ” technique, for illustration, is clearly depicted in this gap scene, as Nikolai hurled himself to the land and got up, and got kicked down once more. The dance was a comparatively grounded contemplation of the dances performed at that clip in America. An interesting point to observe would be the air of “ selfishness ” , as quoted from the movie, that Nikolai had. He wanted to dance what he himself wanted to dance, which is typically why he left communist Russia in the first topographic point. This is an eldritch contemplation of the movie ‘s choreographer, Twyla Tharp, who felt that dance should be done for the interest of dance, and disregarded the audience and external unfavorable judgments.

The following dance scene featured Greenwood making a pat dance. He sings in English and dances, entertaining a little crowd in a Russian theater. Tap dance was ab initio meant to be a jeer of early Afro-american bondage.[ 1 ]It was a dance popular among the inkinesss in America, as Greenwood said later on when he was speaking to Nikolai. Tap dance is characterized by the tapping sound that is made by metal home bases that are attached to the ball and heel of the terpsichorean ‘s places.[ 2 ]Even though the universe was purportedly opening up, there was still an air of ill will between the Whites and the inkinesss in America.

A comparing between Baryshnikov ‘s and Hines ‘ dancing capablenesss can be made when they are seen in the ulterior parts of the film, when they dance together. Baryshnikov ‘s position is unsloped and tall with his mentum up, typical of concert dance terpsichoreans. His weaponries and legs extend and travel gracefully. Hines on the other manus is about ever hunched when he is dancing, with his weaponries thrashing approximately. Baryshnikov wears a much more refined and professional expression while Hines falls into the class of being somewhat more set back. Both are however still astonishing terpsichoreans.

Nikolai ‘s modern dances and Greenwood ‘s pat dance are the two chief typical manners of dancing featured in the movie. However, a proper analysis of dance in this movie goes much deeper than merely these proficient facets. The remainder of this paper will discourse certain secret plan points that reflect dance during this mid-20th Century period.

The first key secret plan point would be that of the Russian KGB declining to let Nikolai to return to America, and so non put to deathing or bear downing him for being a treasonist, but inquiring him to dance in Russia alternatively. This says a batch about the manner the Russians viewed dance at that clip. Ever since Tsarist regulation in Russia, dance, concert dance in peculiar, was ever seen as a high society activity. As in France, concert dance in Russia was seen to reflect richness, high quality and pureness. There are many good grounds as to why the Soviets would desire to maintain Nikolai alive and dancing every bit compared to merely put to deathing him for being a treasonist. For one, the fact that he defected to the United States, Russia ‘s biggest challenger during the Cold War, was a immense smack in the face for the Soviets. Having a celebrated terpsichorean back with them would demo that the Soviets were drawing in front culturally as creative persons were go forthing America for Russia. During the Soviet regulation, many Russian citizens, although quiet because of their fright of the KGB, were unhappy with the Communist government. It was a clip of great political battle between the Americans and the Communist and holding a great terpsichorean fall ining them would demo cultural high quality.

The following scene to be mentioned is the emotionally charged one between Nikolai and Galina Ivanova, played by Helen Mirren. In this scene, Galina is sitting on phase in an empty theater, humming along to Vladimir Vysotsky ‘s “ The Horses ” . Harmonizing to the duologue that ensues between Nikolai and Galina, they had wanted to dance to the vocal in a public presentation for the last 10 old ages. Nikolai had gone on and performed to the vocal in America, while Galina, stayed on in Russia and still had non gotten a opportunity to execute to it. Nikolai ‘s dance, though surprisingly glorious, is non the focal point here. It is the shouting Galina, that reflects the sad province of creative persons and personal businesss in the Soviet Union. It can be said that her cryings were a mixture of joy and unhappiness, as she wept for the province her fatherland was in, while joying over the fact that her ex-lover was dancing what she had ever wanted to dance, but ne’er could. The superb dance by Nikolai reflects how an creative person can prosecute flawlessness and glare when he is non bounded in a box like Galina was. The purgings and the fright of the Soviet KGB meant that creative persons could non prosecute their dreams and were non free to develop any manner other than the 1s that were taught to them. On the contrary, America ‘s democratic authorities and freedom of look bases meant that art ( and dance ) could develop in a really speedy and altering individualistic gait. However despite all the congratulations about America, America itself was non wholly free from subjugation. The last portion of this analysis will concentrate on Greenwood.

Greenwood left America because pat dance was non patronized by the rich, and he was unable to gain a life making what he loved to make. He was angry with America and, as quoted, left for someplace “ where if wages ” . In communist Russia, Greenwood was able to gain a life tapping. The point to take note of here is how democracy does non vouch that everyone gets fed, particularly creative persons, who ‘s plants though outstanding, because of biass, are non acknowledged for their achievements. After run intoing Nikolai, Greenwood was exposed to some of the music that he had non gotten to hear because of the Soviet ‘s closed society. In the 2nd half of the show, there is a scene where Greenwood puts on one of Nikolai ‘s cassettes and attempts tapping to the music. A manner of music that he has been off from for a really long clip. He starts tapping, a small awkwardly at first to the music but shortly he follows along. He dances with so much joy and energy, that its difficult to conceive of a adult adult male dancing like that. From skiding across the piano, to running around the dance hall, to mounting up and onto a bench, this scene showed off how much art, and in this instance dance, means to an creative person, and how it is a signifier of look, and of let go ofing all one ‘s feelings, be it joy, unhappiness or choler. This scene, where Greenwood dances to Nikolai ‘s music was a blunt contrast to Greenwood ‘s old dance scene, in which he was isolated to a little phase and paseo with music that was uninspiring. Ultimately, Greenwood chose to take a opportunity and return to America, where he would be free. Free from the Soviet ‘s closed society and free to execute what he wanted, with whatever music he wanted.

Apart from the seeable proficient glare of Baryshnikov and Hines, it can besides be seen that art ( dance ) will ne’er be at its best when there are boundaries imposed. The movie has reflected this so strongly, from the emotionally charged dances of Nikolai and Greenwood. It is a strong reminder for creative persons to non restrict themselves to what they are taught, because there is so much more that can be attained if they strive for it. Dance unified two work forces prosecuting their dreams, and the movie has shown how extremely regarded dance was in a cultural point of position. This movie has strongly depicted the power of dance and how dance can alter lives.