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Title: Politics in Pointe Shoes: The Genesis and Afterlives of Stalinist Drambalet
Authors: Stern, Elizabeth Hannah
Advisors: Morrison, Simon A
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: Ballet
Socialist Realism
Subjects: Slavic studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: “Politics in Pointe Shoes: The Genesis and Afterlives of Stalinist Drambalet” explores the fraught history of an under-investigated genre of Soviet ballet, known as drambalet [dramatic ballet]. Utilizing a range of little-studied archival sources, this dissertation provides detailed case studies at particular moments of cultural flux to show how the development of drambalet was less predetermined than has been perceived. It argues that drambalet’s genesis was a response to complex and contradictory forces operating in early Soviet culture, and that it was deeply connected to the parallel development of Socialist Realism. In order to assess ballet’s response to cultural policy, particular attention is given to ideological discourse and the political behaviors of those working for major arts institutions. In doing so, this dissertation challenges a reductive view of drambalet as little more than propaganda for an oppressive regime. Introduction II provides a brief overview of the debates on ballet reform during the Soviet 1920s by focusing on several influential critics and two proposed dance genres: the dance symphony and choreographic drama. Chapter 1 centers on GATOB’s (the former Mariinsky Theater) response to its acute repertoire crisis during the period of the First Five-Year Plan (1928-1932). It highlights the challenges inherent in verbalizing the non-verbal art of ballet, focusing on theorizations of the ballet libretto, the libretto competition of 1929, and several “failed” ballets. Chapter 2 functions as an in-depth case study of The Flames of Paris (1932), analyzing this pivotal ballet as a model drambalet and as a response to Socialist Realism. Chapter 3 examines the transplantation of Socialist Realism as doctrine and drambalet as its attendant choreographic practice to the German Democratic Republic in the early 1950s. Drambalet and Socialist Realism were profoundly “tested” by this new set of historical and cultural conditions and both were, ultimately, renegotiated. The epilogue touches upon the peculiar post-Soviet afterlife of drambalet. It shows how certain problems with the genre persist; it also raises a number of provocative questions about what the uncanny return of Stalinist drambalet might reveal about post-Soviet culture.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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