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Britain's Royal Ballet in Apartheid South Africa, 1960

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This article reconstructs and analyses, for the first time, the Royal Ballet's state-sponsored tour of apartheid South Africa from February to April 1960. It traces the public outcry surrounding the company's decision to exclude its only dancer of colour, as well as the tour's planning, execution, and continuation through the Sharpeville massacre, local reception, and aftermath. In this episode of the post-war period, politics and high culture operated in tandem to sustain Britain's imperial connections amid decolonization and the Cold War. The article proposes a reframing of the 'Wind of Change' moment, analyses the role of ballet in Britain's cultural Cold War, and underscores the British state's willingness to set aside human and moral concerns for political advantage. Above all, it argues that, rather than being peripheral to, or merely reflecting, the British state's agenda, ballet enacted its politics.




Quinton, L. (2020). Britain’s Royal Ballet in Apartheid South Africa, 1960. Historical Journal.

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