July 4th Dances: Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” and Mather Dance Company’s Choreo to Katie Perry’s “Firework”

Happy 4th of July! Of course I had to post a couple of dances in honor of the holiday. The first is an excerpt of George Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” for New York City Ballet. It debuted in January of 1958. It should be noted that by that time, NYCB was a (relatively speaking) integrated company having already admitted two African-American dancers. One of those was the great Arthur Mitchell- who went on to found the Dance Theater of Harlem. Balanchine was a Russian immigrant and is known to have loved all things American. He was exceptionally enthusiastic about the music of John Philip Sousa which is the very definition of patriotic American music. Balanchine created this ballet to John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes”.

“Firework” is performed by American pop-star Katy Perry who also co-wrote it with several other songwriters including the venerable Ester Dean. Aside from the very obvious fit of the song title for this particular holiday, the song is about being a patriot to oneself. That is, self-love. It was released in October 0f 2010 and reached number one on the Billboard chart. I chose a performance by students of Mather Dance School performing in the annual Pulse dance tour to a slower version than the original release. The dancers are: Genneya Walton (yellow), Simone Camersi (red), Audrey Lee (green), Samantha Grayson (blue), and Autumn Miller (purple). The colors refer to their costumes. They bring a lot of great technique of course but I though they were special because of the emotion that they imbue the piece with as well which is impressive for their ages.Choreo is by Shannon Mather.

“Stars and Stripes”- Liberty Bell and El Capitan
Mather Dance Company Choreo to Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” (Slow Version)