Staging Age pp 191-206 | Cite as

Age and the Dance Artist



For performing artists in many Western dance forms, the deepening and maturing of artistry are eventually and inevitably tied to a decline in physical capabilities. Once performers pass their physical prime, de facto retirement from the stage almost always follows. What is the potential for mature artists to make important contributions as performers when they are beyond their physical prime? What cultural forces, attitudes, and other factors inhibit a decision to continue? What is the nature of virtuosity in the dance practice of mature artists? Do they possess attributes that younger performers have not yet acquired? Interviews, performance analyses, and readings on aging and ageism are the tools used to ponder these questions. In this chapter, a mature dancer is defined, somewhat arbitrarily, as one who is forty-five years or older, because few would disagree that at that age, athletic virtuosity is on the decline. The artists referenced in this chapter are regarded as outstanding in their genre. Only the Euro-American forms of modern dance and ballet as practiced in North America have been examined.


Personal Interview Physical Decline Artistic Director Movement Phrase Mature Dancer 
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© Valerie Barnes Lipscomb and Leni Marshall 2010

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