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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Setting the stage: Dance and gender in old-line New Orleans carnival balls, 1870–1920
by Atkins, Jennifer, Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2008, 250; 3321453
Abstract (Summary)

Mardi Gras Carnival balls are traditional New Orleans events when krewe organizations present their seasonal mock monarchs. Traditionally, these ballroom spectacles included tableaux vivants performances, the grand march and promenade of the season’s royal court, special dances with masked krewemen, and general ballroom dancing. These events reinforced generational ties through the display of social power in a place where women were crystallized into perfect images of Southern beauty. Since the mid nineteenth century, old-line krewes (the oldest, most elite Carnival organizations) have cultivated patriarchal traditions in their ball presentations and have acted as historical vehicles of commentary on personal and social identity. The manner in which krewe members used their bodies to proclaim their royalty, to promenade, or to dance, all signified individual social roles and represented the evolving mores of their connected group. Likewise, masked courtiers and fashionable guests used their bodies in ballroom dancing to uphold or refute acceptable standards of male and female behavior. From 1870 to 1920, old-line krewes dominated the private terrain of New Orleans Mardi Gras. Through their steadfast commitment to performing white elitism, traditional krewes set the stage for the gender battles of the twentieth century, when female, black, and gay bodies, within newly formed krewes, used dance in their own carnival balls to define modern and diverse sexual, personal, and communal identities.

Indexing (document details)
School: The Florida State University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 69/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Dance, Gender studies
Keywords: Ballroom dancing, Carnival balls, Gender performance, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Tableaux vivants
Publication Number: 3321453
ISBN: 978-0-549-72235-9
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