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Choreodrama


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#1 John-Michael

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Posted 14 September 2003 - 05:29 PM

What is the difference between a narrative ballet a la Petipa and a Soviet era choreodrama? I haven't had the pleasure of seeing any choreodramas but the pictures and music that I've seen and heard from them seem relatively traditional.

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 02:43 AM

That's the usual way of Soviet-era ballets, JM. They follow the general outlines of the Imperial-era story ballets, except that they got rid of mime as a sort of capitalist imperialist excess, and substituted dance which would, they hoped, convey the story. Divertissements were all right, especially in the last act, but divertissement could erupt at any time, as with the Petipa ballets. A typical story arc of an act of a Soviet ballet might run: plot plot plot, specialty dance, plot divertissement divertissement divertissement divertissement pas d'action divertissement divertissement divertissement, plot, general dance.

#3 rg

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Posted 15 September 2003 - 05:24 AM

'choreodrama' appears one time in the index of Intern'l Dance Encyc. it's in luigi rossi's essay on la scala and the mention concerns salvatore vigano as the form's 'inventor': vol. 5, p. 528.
whenever i hear this term, often by scholars and/or detractors of soviet era ballet, it would seem to refer to ballets heavy on narrative - typically enacted by means of silent-movie-styled acting, as opposed to what the reformers of russian ballet called the lanugage of deaf and dumb, i.e. formal, 19th c. pantomime.
to point to its chief, early practitioner, i believe soviet ballet scholars often look to aleksandr gorsky.
as you once perceptively mentioned, j-m, gorsky's 'gudule's daughter' a reworking of 'la esmeralda' might be a typical example of this form. ditto the much mentioned and little seen 'salambo.'
elizabeth souritz's 'soviet choreography of the 1920s' would prob. tell you much of interest.
in my bird's eye view of the form, soviet socialist realism embraced 'choreodrama' often referred to in soviet literature as 'dram'balyet,' b/c it could could carry forward the necessary narratives and telescope, poster-art emphatically the 'messages.' i imagine it was embraced as a clear antidote to the no-no formalist tendencies that the soviet authorities so maligned.
although it may be hard for some of us to see, grigorovich's ballets were welcomed in their time as something of answer to - or reversal of - dram'balyet methods b/c they used dancing more forthrightly to tell their stories. igor stupnikov's essay in the martha bremser's 2-vol. 'international dictionary of ballet' indicates this if mem serves. (i think this is in an essay about 'legend of love' or about yuri g. himself, i forget which.)
probably members more conversant with soviet ballet could explicate this more carefully. as for vigano all one knows i suppose is what's in the books, i've never known of any attempts to recover any of his canon.


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