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Mindy Aloff

Hippo in a Tutu - Dancing in Disney Animation

by Mindy Aloff
February 18, 2009
Dancing in Disney Animation
by Mindy Aloff

Fantasia's dance extravaganza for hippopotamus ballerinas and their crocodile cavaliers, backed by a corps de ballet of ostriches and elephants, is one of the best-loved scenes in all the classic Disney animated features. Yet few viewers realize that this scene is not only a hilarious send-up of ballet mannerisms but a deeply informed, affectionate parody of a scene choreographed two years before Fantasia's release by George Balanchine for the 1938 film Goldwyn Follies, featuring movie-star ballerina Vera Zorina.

Springing off from and ultimately landing upon this famous sequence, Hippo in a Tutu, examines the roles that dancing and choreography have played in Disney's films, from the earliest Mickey shorts and Silly Symphonies, through the great classic features such as Snow White and Alice in Wonderland, to recent hits such as Lilo & Stitch.

Based on extensive original research in the Disney archives and oral-history interviews, renowned dance critic and scholar Mindy Aloff both analyzes and celebrates dance in the Disney studio's work, while also investigating behind the scenes to discover in detail how Disney's animated dance sequences were created.

Lavishly illustrated and including many rare images never before published, accessible to fans and scholars alike, Hippo in a Tutu will fascinate and delight anyone who cares about dancing, animation—or the glorious pas de deux of both together.

MINDY ALOFF has published essays, interviews, and articles on dance, literature, film, music, and other cultural subjects in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Village Voice, The Atlantic, Vogue, The Threepenny Review, Parnassus, dancereviewtimes, Voice of Dance, and many other periodicals, anthologies, and online journals in the United States and Europe. She has been masthead dance critic for The Nation (1983-93) and for The New Republic (1993-2001). Her essays also appear in the anthology Reading Dance (Pantheon, 2008) and on the literary Web site MrBellersNeighborhood.com. A consultant for the George Balanchine Foundation, she is the author of a volume of poetry, Night Lights (Prescott Street Press, 1979), and editor of Dance Anecdotes (Oxford University Press, 2006), which has recently been reissued in paperback. She is currently editing an anthology of choreographer Agnes de Mille's writing for the University Press of Florida. A former fellow of the Dance Critics Institute of the American Dance Festival and of the Woodrow Wilson and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial foundations and a recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, she teaches dance criticism and writing at Barnard College.

By Mindy Aloff
Disney Editions
Publication date: 2/17/2009
ISBN: 1-4231-0079-4; $30.00; All Ages
'Hippo in a Tutu' Cover Illustration Copyright c 2008 Disney Enterprises, Inc. Published by Disney Editions, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

"Hippo in a Tutu" Cover Illustration
Copyright c 2008 Disney Enterprises, Inc. Published by Disney Editions, an
imprint of Disney Book Group.

Photo © & courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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