Research Publication Title

The Historiography of Ballet Russes and the Russian Revolution: Dramaturgy for the play Ballet Russes

Major

History and Liberal Studies

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Karen Berman

Keywords

Theatre, History, Dramaturgy, Intellectual History, The Russian Revolution, The First World War, Ballet Russes

Abstract

This project investigates the political and artistic connections between the Ballet Russes dance company, and the wider socio-economic changes attributed to the Russian Revolution and the First World War. The 2019 Georgia College theatrical production of the play Ballet Russes, by Bernard Myers, follows the innovative and revolutionary ballet company of the same name. The story specifically focuses on the interpersonal relationship between the company’s Maestro Serge Diaghilev, and the legendary ballerino Vaslav Nijinsky. The central themes of the show revolve around the issues of exploitation, power structure, and revolution. The role of the dramaturg in the show’s production was to contextualize the text of the script within the real-life historical events on which it was based. The research into the artistic and intellectual history of the time period adds to the historiographical medium by helping introduce Ballet Russes’ importance into the mainstream discourse. The research methods used were historiographical contextual analysis of the time period in which the play was written, and the time period in which the story takes place. The research process was continuous throughout the project and provided the historical context of the story as well as forming the central interpretive argument of the production itself. Once the show was cast, the dramaturg’s research transitioned to that of a historical consultant for the production team. The fully realized production of Ballet Russes argues that the company represented the political and metaphysical change of the European worldview from modern period optimism to postmodern skepticism. The abstract innovation exhibited by Ballet Russes’ art reflected the European people’s need to find self-meaning in a world destroyed by war and revolution.

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The Historiography of Ballet Russes and the Russian Revolution: Dramaturgy for the play Ballet Russes

This project investigates the political and artistic connections between the Ballet Russes dance company, and the wider socio-economic changes attributed to the Russian Revolution and the First World War. The 2019 Georgia College theatrical production of the play Ballet Russes, by Bernard Myers, follows the innovative and revolutionary ballet company of the same name. The story specifically focuses on the interpersonal relationship between the company’s Maestro Serge Diaghilev, and the legendary ballerino Vaslav Nijinsky. The central themes of the show revolve around the issues of exploitation, power structure, and revolution. The role of the dramaturg in the show’s production was to contextualize the text of the script within the real-life historical events on which it was based. The research into the artistic and intellectual history of the time period adds to the historiographical medium by helping introduce Ballet Russes’ importance into the mainstream discourse. The research methods used were historiographical contextual analysis of the time period in which the play was written, and the time period in which the story takes place. The research process was continuous throughout the project and provided the historical context of the story as well as forming the central interpretive argument of the production itself. Once the show was cast, the dramaturg’s research transitioned to that of a historical consultant for the production team. The fully realized production of Ballet Russes argues that the company represented the political and metaphysical change of the European worldview from modern period optimism to postmodern skepticism. The abstract innovation exhibited by Ballet Russes’ art reflected the European people’s need to find self-meaning in a world destroyed by war and revolution.

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