Baryshnikov had all the bases covered for classical ballet. His 1979 pas de deux with New York City ballerina Patricia McBride was a splash. He was invited by President and Mrs. Carter and performed several more times after that. Baryshnikov also received Kennedy Center Honors in 2000 from President Clinton, an award that “celebrates a lifetime of achievement in the arts.” Also, the American Ballet Theatre performed the Nutcracker in December of 2005, at the invitation of Laura Bush. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie hosted this event for children of overseas troops. A plethora of Jerome Robbins’ ballets have also been performed at the White House.
Even tap has been a well recognized art form at the White House! Savion Glover, world famous tapper, put on a special performance for President Clinton in his program called “Savion Glover’s Stomp, Slide and Swing.” This 1998 presentation was aired on PBS as well as the Variety Arts Theater in New York City. Glover was called “the best tap dancer that ever lived…a genius” by tap great Gregory Hines and has won numerous Tony Awards. This performance featured a solo from Glover, as well as pieces from other tappers. This youtube video captures the stunning performance:
Even Broadway has also been appreciated by presidential administrations. Several “Salute to Broadway” performances have been given, featuring such acclaimed performers as Shirley Jones, Stubby Kaye, and Lee Roy Reams. Musicians have also given Presidents a trip down memory lane with sections played from Oklahoma!, Jersey Boys, and Porgy and Bess.
Wow - what a conglomeration of artists! There is great evidence throughout presidential history that the arts have been noticed and appreciated. Some of this information can be surprising, for one does not usually think of the President as being an advocate for the arts. However, this information goes to show that politics and dance do have a connection. It is obvious that American culture would not be the same without the contributions of modern and contemporary dance, classical ballet, jazz, tap, and even Broadway, and this is a fact that has been heavily endorsed by our government. Good to know – huh?