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Books on *Soviet* Ballets (Works and Companies)1917-1980 particularly


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#1 EricMontreal22

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:37 PM

I've been looking for a good book about 20th century Soviet ballets and companies. I guess ideally I'd love something like Wiley's amazing A Century of Russian Ballet, but for the later era.

I've found many books that discuss basics--and a couple of great 1980 books about the current Bolshoi ballet. What I'm looking for though is something that not only discusses the revival works of the old classics, or Grigorovich's Spartacus in passing as many books do. I'd love to know, for instance, what people thought of the "rival" Bolshoi and Kirov productions of Prokofiev's Cinderella in 1945 and 1946 respectively, at the time, or why Lavrosky's original Stone Flower was something of a flop, or how the Bolshoi began to predominate the Kirov when the capital was moved. (My specific interest is on the Soviet history of the three Prokofiev ballets--his biographies don't give much about the actual *productions* just the writing and problems getting Romeo and Juliet staged). Are there any good basic books on these things?

Amazon does list a book from the 40s--and a 70s edition--called The Soviet Ballet by Juri Slonimsky (and others) that can be ordered used--would people recommend this book? It seems that with so much brilliant information on the Imperial Russian classic ballets and their world, I'd love similar info about ballet in the Soviet era.

Thanks for any suggestions and recommendations!

#2 rg

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 11:09 AM

when i last looked at it, Slonimsky's book while somewhat informative on the period in question here, was likewise somewhat of an 'overview,'but i haven't taken my copy down in a while/
if mem. serves it doesn't have anything like the particular focus and detail found in Souritz's SOVIET CHOREOGRAPHERS OF THE TWENTIES.
Simon Morrison's new book on Prokofiev deals with the ballets somewhat, but as it's a general biography/study it doesn't concentrate on them.

here's how the NYPL lists the book:
The Soviet ballet, by Juri Slonimsky and others.
New York, Philosophical Library [1947]
xii, 285 p. illus., ports. 24 cm.
CONTENTS.--The Soviet ballet, by Juri Slonimsky.--Traditions of the Russian ballet, by Nikolai Volkov.--Music of the Soviet ballet, by Vera Vasina.--Choreographic education in the USSR, by Peter Gusev.--Agrippina Vaganova, by N. Volkov.--Dancers of the older generation of the Soviet ballet, by Victor Iving.--Soviet choreographers, by George Mamontov.--Catherine Geltser, by V. Iving.--Marina Semenova, by N. Volkov.--Galina Ulanova, by Vladimir Potapov.--Olga Lepeshinskaya, by Mikhail Dolgopolov.--Natalia Dudinskaya, by J. Slonimsky.--Two dancers: Alexei Yermolayev and Vakhtang Chabukiani, by G. Mamontov.--Asaf Messerer, by N. Volkov.--Konstantin Sergeyev, by V. Iving.--Dancers of the Moscow and Leningrad ballets, by J. Slonimsky.--Folk dances of the peoples of the USSR, by Igor Moiseyev.--The Russian dance, by V. Iving.--National dances in the U.S.S.R., by V. Potapov.--Tamara Khanum, by Vassili Makarov.--The dance in the Red Army and Navy, by Vasili Maximov.--Ballet and the blockade, by Olga Jordan.

#3 Rebeccadb

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:06 AM

Souritz's book is a gem, I've had a copy for about 12 years & its great to dip in & out of or to read in one ago about many ballets that are not likely to be ever seen again.

#4 EricMontreal22

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 09:46 PM

Thanks to the great suggestions on here I came across Souritz's Soviet Choreographers of the Twenties in a used book store a bit back and have been making my way through. I only wish it went into the 30s and 40s (so it would cover the Prokofiev works) but it's fascinating--especially in its comparison of how Lopukhov handled the Kirov and Gorsky handled the Bolshoi in the 20s in terms of revivals of the Imperial Russian classics--Lopukhov more or less striving to keep the Petipa, and Gorsky going all out modern in with very 1920s theatre ideals in his stagings (which don't seem like they were successful to me personally but are exciting to read about).

#5 Elizaveta

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 02:23 PM

I also really like Natalia Roslavleva's "Era of the Russian Ballet," which, despite its title, covers a good deal of the Soviet era. Published 1966

Mary Grace Swift wrote "The Art of the Dance in the USSR" in 1968, which is also good, although written from an American point of view.

Alexander Demidov's "Russian Ballet: Past and Present" (1977) covers a lot of Soviet stuff, but it is more of an overview, like you will find with Slonimsky.

Finally, Maya Plisetskaya's memoirs, which have been translated into English ("I, Maya Plisetskaya") are really great to read, as are Valery Panov's ("To Dance").


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