Skip to main content

The Art of American Dance

October 22, 2016 – January 16, 2017

John Singer Sargent, Capri Girl on a Rooftop
John Singer Sargent, Capri Girl on a Rooftop, 1878, oil on canvas, 20 x 25 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2011.32

The Art of American Dance is the first major traveling exhibition to explore American visual art related to the many forms of dance. This exhibition features 90 works, ranging from realistic to abstract, by iconic and wide-ranging artists such as John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Robert Henri, William Merritt Chase, Nick Cave, and Faith Ringgold.

The Art of American Dance examines dance-inspired paintings, prints, sculptures, and photographs from the 1830s to the recent past—from dance in Native American cultures to ballroom dancing, to Jitterbug, swing, modern dance, and others. Exploring the variety of ways Americans embrace dance as part of everyday life, as well as the diverse forms of professional dance, including burlesque, flamenco, and classical ballet, the exhibition highlights the central place dance has held in American culture and in the imagination of American artists.

Artists did not merely represent dance; they were inspired by dance to think about how Americans move through space, share culture, and express themselves through movement. Visitors can also examine the American history of race, gender, ethnicity, and class through the lenses of dance and the visual arts.

Thomas F. DeFrantz on The Art of American Dance

The Art of American Dance exhibition trailer

Press Links


This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and an ADAA Foundation Curatorial Award and the Association of Art Museum Curators.