Dance Timeline

Date World Event Dance Event
1900 First London performances by quintessentially free-spirited American dancer Isadora Duncan
1901 Death of Queen Victoria
1903 American aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright fly the first heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk
1904 Birth of choreographers George Balanchine and Frederick Ashton
1905 First peformance of the solo The Dying Swan by legendary Anna Pavlova
1906 San Francisco devastated by earthquake and fire; Movement for Women’s Suffrage becomes active in Britain
1909 Henry Ford pioneers the modern ‘assembly-line’ mass production of his famous Model T automobile First Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes includes the premiere of Michel Fokine’s seminal plotless ballet Les Sylphides
1910 Death of Marius Petipa, classical ballet’s major architect
1912 China becomes a Republic
1913 Vaslav Nijinsky’s staging of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps causes a riot in Paris
1914 Outbreak of World War I; opening of Panama Canal Ted Shawn marries Ruth St Denis, the union of two American modern dance pioneers
1917 Bolshevik Revolution topples tsarist Russia
1919 Treaty of Versailles ends World War I
Date World Event Dance Event
1924 Death of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
1927 Charles Lindbergh flies the Atlantic alone; the ‘birth’ of sound in the cinema Death of Isadora Duncan; Apollo is George Balanchine’s first collaboration with composer Igor Stravinsky
1929 US stock market crash provokes world-wide economic depression
1930 Birth of American choreographer Paul Taylor
1931 Founding of Vic-Wells and Ballet Club (later Ballet Rambert) in England
1932 Premiere of Kurt Jooss’ Expressionist anti-war classic The Green Table
1933 First film appearance by Hollywood’s premier song-and-dance man Fred Astaire
1934 George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein open the School of American Ballet in New York City
1936 Spanish Civil War begins Antony Tudor premieres his Jardin aux Lilas at Ballet Club in London
1939 Germany’s invasion of Poland triggers World War II Ballet Theatre, later know as American Ballet Theatre, is founded
1941 Japanese attack Pearl Harbor
1943 Agnes de Mille choreographs Oklahoma! on Broadway
Date World Event Dance Event
1944 Premieres of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, to music by Aaron Copland, and Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein’s Fancy Free, each an American dance milestone
1945 Atomic bomb destoys Hiroshima; Hitler defeated
1947 Partition of India and Pakistan
1948 Mahatma Gandhi assassinated The British film The Red Shoes is released
1949 People’s Republic of China proclaimed
1950 Death of Vaslav Nijinsky
1953 Elizabeth II crowned First performances of Merce Cunningham’s own eponymous company
1956 Suez Canal crisis; Russia crushes Hungarian uprising Robert Joffrey founds Joffrey Ballet; Sadler’s Wells Ballet renamed the Royal Ballet by royal charter; Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet makes its Western debut in London
1957 Sputnik I launched by Soviet Union
1958 Death of Doris Humphrey
1960 Premiere of Alvin Aileys’ Revelations
1961 John Cranko named director of Stuttgart Ballet; Rudolf Nureyev defects in Paris
1962 Debut of the Judson Dance Theatre collective (Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, David Gordon, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer) in New York City
Date World Event Dance Event
1963 President John F Kennedy assassinated
1966 Robin Howard founds the London Contemporary Dance School and, the following year, the London Contemporary Dance Theatre; Ballet Rambert (renamed Rambert Dance Company in 1987) shifts its focus from ballet to modern dance
1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War
1968 Russian troops invade Czechoslovakia British choreographer Richard Alston creates his first works
1969 American astronauts are the first men to walk on the moon 1969 Stuttgart Ballet’s New York season ushers in the ‘ballet boom’
1970 Kenneth MacMillan succeeds Frederick Ashton as artistic director of the Royal Ballet
1972 New York City Ballet’s week-long Stravinsky Festival honours the composer’s contribution to ballet; crystallization of American dancer Steve Paxton’s enormously influential ideas about contact improvisation
1973 Vietnam War ends German dance-threatre diva Pina Bausch stages her first works at opera house in Wuppertal
1974 Watergate scandal in the United States
1975 Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister and the first woman to lead a western democracy Premiere of Paul Taylor’s masterwork Esplanade
1978 Birth of world’s first ‘test tube’ baby
1981 Attempted assassination of US President Ronald Reagan
Date World Event Dance Event
1982 Falklands War
1983 Death of George Balanchine; Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker forms her company Rosas
1984 IRA bomb at Grand Hotel, Brighton Michael Clark launches his eponymous company; William Forsythe becomes artistic director of the Frankfurt Ballet
1986 DV8 Physical Theatre formed in Britain by Lloyd Newson, Nigel Charnock and others
1988 Death of Frederick Ashton; British choreographer Siobhan Davies launches her company; American choreograher Mark Morris premieres his masterpiece L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato in Brussels
1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in China; demolition of Berlin Wall;Official end of Cold War
1990 Nelson Mandela freed after 25 years