To Dance the Native Dance: Vernacular Modernism in an “Australian-New Zealand Comedy Romance”
This article studies The Adventures of Algy, a 1925 “Australian-New Zealand comedy-romance,” and in particular the “Māori dance” performances of its Pākeha heroine, Kiwi McGill. Dance serves multiple functions in the film, reflecting a trend for primitivism in global silent cinema, claiming Māori performance culture for a settler colonial narrative, and acting as a means to translate modern experiences. As such it offers a mechanism to reconsider what Miriam Hansen has described, in relation to the classical Hollywood cinema, as “vernacular modernism” in the form of a minor, and only marginally successful film: “one of ours.”
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