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Title: Ballet Missionary: Adolph Bolm’s American Enlightenment Agenda, 1917-1951
Authors: Watts, Carolyn J.
Advisors: Morrison, Simon A.
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: Adolph Bolm
American Ballet Theatre
Ballet Intime
Chicago Allied Arts
Hollywood Bowl
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation centers on the American career of Russian ballet dancer-choreographer Adolph Bolm (1884-1951) through the lens of his artistic agenda to enlighten American audiences to (and with) ballet. A graduate of Saint Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet School and an alumnus of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Bolm settled in the United States in 1917 when ballet had yet to find secure footing in the American cultural landscape. Through nearly thirty-five years of self-professed “missionary” work, Bolm contributed to the popularization of ballet in the United States. By doing so, he asserted that ballet could provide education in music, history, and ethnography.The introduction begins by unpacking the origins of Bolm’s artistic agenda in his upbringing in Russia’s Imperial Theaters and the Ballets Russes, then explores the dancer’s close engagement with music. Part I examines how Bolm navigated the spaces for ballet in America during his first five years in the country. During this time, he performed on stages deemed “high” and “low” (Chapter 1), toured small-town America with his Ballet Intime (Chapter 2), and imagined how “American ballet” could take shape (Chapter 3). Part II covers Bolm’s activities during the 1920s. Chapter 4 discusses his time in Chicago, especially his work with the Chicago Allied Arts, an enterprise for music and dance that brought modernism to the Midwest. Chapter 5 revaluates Bolm’s 1928 world premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Apollon Musagète in Washington, D.C. Part III follows Bolm to California in the 1930s, where he sought to bring ballet to mass audiences on screen, via the burgeoning Hollywood film industry, and on stage at the Hollywood Bowl (Chapter 6). Chapter 7 acknowledges Bolm’s role in the establishment of the San Francisco Ballet in 1933. Breaking from the chronological approach, Part IV looks to the past and the future: Chapter 8 examines Bolm’s Ballets Russes revivals, and Chapter 9 conceptualizes (American) Ballet Theater as a culmination of his enlightenment agenda. Throughout the dissertation, Bolm’s relationship with composers and their music is highlighted, including Georges Barrère, John Alden Carpenter, Charles Griffes, Alexander Mosolov, Sergei Prokofiev, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Carlos Salzedo, and Igor Stravinsky.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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