Professor Karen Eliot’s current research on the rise of ballet in Britain during World War II culminated last fall in the publication of her new book, Albion's Dance: British Ballet during the Second World War, by Oxford University Press on Sept. 1, 2016. The book delves into a period when British ballet was focused on honing its national identity and includes anecdotes of the ballet companies and dancers making work during the war.
“I was drawn to research ballet in Britain during the Second World War because of my childhood in London, just 20 years after the war,” says Eliot, “and because of my curiosity about the experiences of my ballet teacher, a dancer during the war who shared with me some of her fond recollections of those times.”
According to the publisher, “When the Second World War broke out, ballet in Britain was only a few decades old. Few had imagined that it would establish roots in a nation long thought to be unresponsive to dance. Nevertheless, the war proved to be a boon for ballet dancers, choreographers and audiences, for the nation's dancers were forced to look inward to their own identity and sources of creativity…. Exploring the so-called 'ballet boom' during WWII, the larger story of this book is one of how art and artists thrive during conflict, and how they respond pragmatically and creatively to privation and duress.”
Eliot’s research was supported by an Ohio State Arts and Humanities Seed Grant (2004), several College of the Arts and Sciences Research Grants and a Coca Cola Critical Difference for Women Grant (2007-08).