Sunday, November 16, 2008

The intersection of American and German cultures in the 1930's: jazz, racism and freedom

In the movie Swing Kids the viewer slips into Germany and the Holocaust through the back door. In the 1930's the world's hottest, most liberating music was American jazz. Much like rock 'n roll in the 1950's, it scared the world's conservatives because it was rebellious and electric.

The Nazi organization tried to ban jazz which at that time was fomenting a vibrant connection between Germany and the US. It was a connection that challenged traditional ethnocentrism / racism and put the emphasis on the art and joy of well-written music.

Swing Kids is an informative introduction to 20th century European culture and the conflicts that bedevil Europeans to this day.

Thus our unit this week will be modern Germany, WWII and the roots of ethnocentrism that resulted in the ethnic devastation called the Holocaust.

Artistically speaking, please check out tap man Savion Glover; he is a modern embodiment of the jazz aesthetic as expressed in dance.

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