The history of twentieth century New Zealand performing arts is often told as a parable of escape in which the talented have to depart the colonial isolation of New Zealand and sojourn in the cultural richness of civilisation. Keith Sinclair’s 1959 History of New Zealand presented the attempts to produce art in the late nineteenth century as failures of judgement. ‘New Zealand was not yet able to make her artists or poets feel at home. In Paradise Reforged, James Belich argued that during the so-called ‘recolonial’ period (1880s-1960s) New Zealand produced ‘talent that was surplus to local requirements’ leading to the situation where ‘the culturally talented were often physical expatriates.’ General histories of New Zealand have so far not allowed for men who danced to make an entrance, let alone take centre stage in the story of New Zealand.
By examining issues surrounding men and dance, a history of New Zealand unfolds that raises questions surrounding masculinity and femininity, body image, race, nationhood, emotional expression and sexual orientation.
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