First lady of nation recognizes first lady of dance

The freewheeling creativity that flourished in 20th century America spawned three indigenous art forms: film, jazz, and modern dance.

The first two on this list (in descending order of magnitude), have functioned relatively adeptly in the market economy. Why? Because entrepreneurs recorded them on celluloid and disc, then packaged, promoted and distributed movies and records. Poor modern dance, existing only in real time and space, has never generated revenue apace. The U.S. has a film industry and a music industry, but where’s the dance industry?

What beautiful news, then, that our underfunded, under appreciated art form will be recognized in a Dance at the White House performance series. The first event, September 7, honors the elegant former dancer and artistic director emeritus of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Judith Jamison. Fitting and somehow fascinating that it took two women of color to give American modern dance its due.

Bravo, and thank you, Michelle Obama!

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