Carina Ari broke several glass ceilings as a dancer and choreographer in the early 20th century and is widely celebrated in Sweden for her accomplishments. That being said, outside Sweden and the Swedish language it is difficult to find in depth information and research on the controversial dancer. In the beginning stages of my research, I found the language barrier frustrating yet also inspiring. My limited knowledge of the Swedish language and the roadblocks I encountered encouraged me to look beyond the general databases and follow new detours for my research.
The Carina Ari Foundation proved to be the best starting point for my research. It provides detailed information about not only her dancing/choreographing career but gives an entire overview of her life, which I had yet to find in any other source. Bengt Häger, who not only founded the Carina Ari Foundation but also the Carina Ari Memorial foundation, and was the chairman of the Carina Ari Library, wrote the biography. Not only a patron of dance and art, he managed several dance companies and followed in many of Ari’s footsteps like dancing under the instruction of Ari’s mentor, Michel Fokin. His background and experiences make him a credible source. From this website and biography I was able to use other key words in my search for more information.
Some of these key words like Michel Fokin, ‘Erotikon’, and Ballets Suedois, and even her foundation name brought my research to several videos and a few articles that looked deeper into the dancer’s life and impact, specifically in Paris. One video I found on YouTube was part of a documentary narrated by Bengt Häger. Although it is in Swedish, it provides primary sources in form of video and photos that I probably would not have access to unless I was in Sweden at the Carina Ari Library. Without a proper translation though, this video only partially provides an understanding into the influence of Ari in Paris.
I also found my first article in English using new keywords. Written by Erik Näslund, the article explores the “Cinderella story” that was Ari’s life and her influence in Paris during the 1920’s and 1930’s, which is the main focus of my research. Näslund claims that her marriage into riches and her foundation “secured” her remembrance, which may explain why finding information outside of the foundation and the foundation’s leader has proven to be difficult.
Hopefully, as I continue my research of this influential dancer, I can find more detours that lead to primary sources, and resources that have a different bias than maybe Häger and Näslund have in their writing. Most of what I have found glorifies the dancer, but to see the whole picture, I need to find critical sources as well. Finding more critical resources from Paris, rather than Sweden will enhance my research and provide a possible alternative lens for looking at Carina Ari’s influence in Paris and dance.
“Carina Ari och den Svenska Baletten-Del 1:1” YouTube video, 9:56. Posted by, “Cassandra Sandiraner,” June 22, 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdQ8HSypBsk
Häger, Bengt. “The Life of Carina Ari (1897-1970).” The Life of Carina Ari (1897-1970). http://carina.se/about-carina-ari_en.html.
Näslund, Erik. “Carina Ari.” Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 7, no. 2 (Autumn, 1989): 70-80.