From Petipa to Balanchine: Classical Revival and the Modernization of Ballet

From Petipa to Balanchine: Classical Revival and the Modernization of Ballet

From Petipa to Balanchine: Classical Revival and the Modernization of Ballet

From Petipa to Balanchine: Classical Revival and the Modernization of Ballet

Synopsis

In this rich interdisciplinary study Tim Scholl provides a provocative and timely re-evaluation of the development of ballet from the 1880s to the middle of the twentieth century. In the light of a thoughtful re-appraisal of dance classicism he locates the roots of modern ballet in the works of Marius Petipa, rather than in the much-celebrated choreographic experiements of Diaghilev's Ballet Russe .Not only is this the first book to present nineteenth- and twentieth-century ballet as a continuous rather than broken tradition, From Petipa to Balanchine places works such as Sleeping Beauty , Les Sylphides , Apollo and Jewells in their proper cultural and artistic context.The only English-language study to be based on the original Russian soures, this book will be essential reading for all dance scholars. Written in an engaging and elegant style it will also appeal to anyone interested in the history of ballet generally.

Excerpt

The modernization of Russian ballet—the transformation of an insular, court-sponsored elite entertainment to a commercially viable art form with a world-wide popular following—dates roughly from the reform movement begun in Russia’s imperial theaters in the 1880s to the demise of the Diaghilev ballet in the late 1920s, when a number of “Russian” ballet troupes billed themselves as heirs to the imperial ballet legacy. Since then, Diaghilev’s famous company, the Ballets Russes, has come to represent the flagship of ballet modernity. Writers on the period celebrate the company’s collaborations with leading Russian and European composers and visual artists and laud the anti-establishment ethos of its iconoclastic choreographic experiments. This work takes a different view. Although the Diaghilev experiment clearly breathed new life into an increasingly moribund art form, the Ballets Russes left a scant legacy. By the end of the Diaghilev period, only a return to the classical dance’s academy could revitalize the art.

This work examines the Russian ballet’s classical revival—an anomalous feature of Russian arts and letters (especially of St Petersburg) in the first decades of the twentieth century, when turn-of-the-century Russian artists looked increasingly to the art of the past to invigorate and reorder their work. I use the term “retrospectivism” to describe an important first step

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