Mindy Aloff's writing on dance, literature, film, theater, and other cultural subjects has appeared widely in periodicals and anthologies, among them The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic, and The Forward. Her anthology, Dance Anecdotes, published by Oxford University Press, has just been reissued in paperback. A fellow of the Woodrow Wilson and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundations and a winner of a Whiting Writers Award, she currently teaches dance criticism, dance history, and a seminar in the personal essay at Barnard College.
Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animationby Mindy Aloff
The ballet for hippo ballerinas and their crocodile cavaliers (plus a corps de ballet of ostriches and elephants) set to Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" in Fantasia (1940) is one of the best-loved scenes in all the Disney animated features. Many viewers may not realize, however, that this ballet is no mere generalized parody of ballet mannerisms, but is in fact a deeply informed, affectionate parody of a famous scene choreographed by George Balanchine for the film Goldwyn Follies (1938) and starring his wife, the ballerina movie star Vera Zorina.
With this sequence as a point of departure, Hippo in a Tutu examines the roles that dance, dancing, and choreography play in the Disney animated shorts and features. This profusely-illustrated chronicle both analyzes and celebrates dance in the Disney studios' work, while also investigating behind the scenes to find out how Disney's animated dance sequences have been made.
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