BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Soviet Drama-Ballet in the 1930s: The Rise of Logocentric Choreography

Fri8  Apr02:20pm(20 mins)


Tara Wheelwright


Soviet ballet attained a national identity in the 1930s due to the demands of socialist realism and the use of canonical literary texts that led to the creation of a new genre of ballet, drama-ballet. By creating a new style of ballet used to express canonical works from 19th century Russian writers followed by foreign classics, drama-ballet became a means of opening a high art form to the masses and communicating Marxist-Leninist ideology first to audiences within the Soviet Union and later to international audiences. Earlier works after the socialist realist mandate were based on original librettos and experimented with different styles of dance, a trend that disappeared as ballets adapted literary works and adhered to new ballet pedagogical methods. By examining the change in the relationship between text and choreography in Bright Stream (Светлый ручей, 1935) based on an originial libretto, The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (Бахчисарайский фонтан, 1937) based on Pushkin's eponymous poem, and Romeo and Juliet (Ромео и Джульетта, 1939) based on Shakespeare, this presentation analyzes the elevation of the word in classical ballet choreography and its impact on the global stage.