Dance and Ballet

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dance and Ballet


In the USSR, dance is one of the most popular forms of folk art, a true national treasure. Every nationality in the USSR has its own dance traditions, choreographic language, unique dance movements, dance music forms, and ways of relating movement to music.

Since earliest times, dance has reflected the way of life, customs, and traditions of the peoples and has been associated with other art forms, primarily music. An integral part of folk spectacles at holiday celebrations and fairs, it reflected various aspects of work. Hunting and stock-raising peoples graphically portrayed through dance the behavior and character of wild animals, birds, and domesticated animals: the bear dance of the Yakuts, the goat dance of the Lithuanians, and the zhuravl’ (crane dance) and gusachok (goose dance) of the Russians. Dances depicting various agricultural activities developed among farming peoples: the Latvian reapers’ dance, the Byelorussian lianok (flax dance), the Moldavian poame (vineyard dance), and the Uzbek shelkopriad (silkweavers’ dance) and pakhta (cotton dance). With the emergence of handicraft production, new dances were created: the Ukrainian bondar’ (coopers’ dance), the Karelian dance How Cloth Is Woven, and the Estonian cobblers’ dance.

Military valor and heroism are also expressed in dance: the Georgian khorumi and berikaoba and the folk dances of the cossacks. The theme of love and respect toward woman occupy an important place in dance: the Georgian kartuli and the Russian Bainovo quadrille. Folk humor is present in many dances: the Byelorussian Iurochka, the Uzbek raks bozy, and the Tadzhik stork and frog dance. Many dances are accompanied by folk instruments and are performed with such everyday accessories as scarves, hats, and cups. National dress also determines the character of the dance.

During the years of Soviet power, every aspect of dance has been developed. Among the peoples whose ancient dance traditions had been forgotten or lost, new dances have been created based on the study of games, ritual movements, and related arts, such as handicrafts, instrumental music, and song. Thus, folk dances have appeared once again in the Kazakh SSR, the Kirghiz SSR, and the Turkmen SSR. The dances of such northern and Siberian peoples as the Evenki, Koriaks, and Yakuts are developing rapidly; these dances are noted for their striking originality (for example, the Yakut Asuokhai).

There are many amateur dance groups and numerous professional ensembles in all the republics. Dance ensembles such as these, which have been formed in all the republics, have in essence become folk dance theaters, where staged choreographic works are created in accordance with all the rules of stagecraft. Among the leading groups are the Folk Dance Ensemble of the USSR (1937), the Choreographic Ensemble Berezka (1948), the Dance Ensemble of the Armenian SSR (1958), the Dance Ensemble of the Azerbaijan SSR (1971), the Dance Ensemble of the Byelorussian SSR (1959), the Folk Dance Ensemble of the Georgian SSR (1945), the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Kazakh SSR (1955), the Folk Dance Ensemble of the Kirghiz SSR (1966), the Daile Dance Ensemble of the Latvian SSR (1968), the Lietuva Song and Dance Ensemble of the Lithuanian SSR (1940), the Zhok Folk Dance Ensemble of the Moldavian SSR (1945), the Lola State Ensemble of Tadzhik Dance (1965), the Folk Dance Ensemble of the Turkmen SSR (1941), the Folk Dance Ensemble of the Ukrainian SSR (1937), and the Bakhor Dance Ensemble of the Uzbek SSR (1957).

In staged folk dances, choreographers and performers portray the joyous life of the people and their work, holidays, customs, and hopes. Characteristic of such folk dances are the mutual influences of the professional and amateur arts and their ties to folklore and the careful preservation of the rarest examples.

Brilliant contributions to the treasury of Soviet staged folk choreography have been made by such masters as I. A. Moiseev, N. S. Nadezhdina, T. A. Ustinova, and M. S. Godenko (RSFSR), P. P. Virskii (Ukrainian SSR), I. I. Sukhishvili and N. Sh. Ramishvili (Georgian SSR), M. Turgunbaeva and Tamara Khanum (Uzbek SSR), J. Lingys (Lithuanian SSR), and V. K. Kurbet (Moldavian SSR).


Soviet ballet is highly acclaimed throughout the world. It is a multinational art, accessible to millions. Having mastered the best traditions of Russian and world choreography, Soviet ballet has developed its own unique qualities. Among its many genres and forms, the multiact narrative ballet, reflecting life and imbued with humanism, has become firmly established. While continuously broadening its thematic scope, Soviet ballet focuses on heroic themes closely attuned to contemporary life. Classical dance, which remains the basic means of expression, is continuously being enriched with folk choreography. The Soviet school of classical dance has trained performers who combine high technical virtuosity with profound emotional power, dancers who truthfully convey character development and the fates of the protagonists.

The earliest ballet performances were presented in the period 1672–76 in Moscow, at the court of Aleksei Mikhailovich. The performers were foreigners and Russian students of the Pastor Gregori (The Ballet of Orpheus and Eurydice, 1673). Regular musical performances were begun in the 1730’s. In 1738 the Frenchman J. Landé organized a dance school in St. Petersburg. This made it possible to present regular performances, whereas previously there were only occasional performances by touring companies, such as those of Fusano (A. Rinaldi). In 1773 dance classes were begun at the Moscow Orphanage, and in 1776, Prince P. V. Urusov and M. G. Medoks (M. Maddox) founded their own private opera and ballet company, which became the basis for the Bolshoi Theater.

During the 18th century the repertoire of the Moscow and St. Petersburg companies comprised mythological, anacreontic ballets and tragedies in pantomime, created by such choreographers as G. Angiolini, F. Hilferding, G. Canziani, J. G. Noverre, C. Le Picq, and G. Solomoni. Russian ballet mastered the innovations of Western European reformers, who enriched ballet with Enlightenment ideas, and developed the traditions of Russian folk choreography, which was gradually becoming a national art form. Russian music and dances were used in comic operas, interludes, and divertissements by Russian composers. Thus, of particular importance during the Patriotic War of 1812 were the patriotic divertissements staged by I. I. Val’berkh, I. M. Ablets, and I. K. Lobanov to music by S. I. Davydov and C. Cavos.

At the turn of the 19th century, ballets similar in style to sentimentalism were staged in St. Petersburg and Moscow, such as Val’berkh’s ballets The New Werther (1799; music by A. N. Titov) and Paul and Virginia (1810). Leading ballerinas included E. I. Kolosova and N. P. Berilova. Elements of romanticism appeared in the dance dramas of C. Didelot and A. P. Glushkovskii (1820’s) and in the productions of F. Hullin-Sor (1830’s). Choreographers turned increasingly to the works of A. S. Pushkin: Didelot staged Cavos’ The Prisoner of the Caucasus, or the Bride’s Ghost (1823), and Glushkovskii staged Ruslan and Liudmila, or the Overthrow of the Evil Sorcerer Chernomor (1821) by F. Scholtz and The Black Shawl (1831), to music by various composers. Among the outstanding dancers in these productions were A. I. Istomina, E. A. Teleshova, A. A. Likhutina, N. O. Gol’ts, and T. I. Glushkovskaia.

By the mid-1830’s, the romantic ballet was firmly established in Russia, as in other European countries. F. Taglioni’s productions of J. Schneitzhöffer’s La Sylphide and A. Adam’s La Fille du Danube reflected the conflict between dream and reality through fantastical creatures. Supernatural beings—sylphs, peris, and undines—embodied the unattainability of the ideal and demanded a new dance language, primarily new toe and jumping techniques. The dancing of the corps de ballet, which was of a generalized nature, served to accompany the soloist. J. Perrot’s stagings of C. Pugni’s La Esmeralda and Catarina, ou la fille du bandit and Adam’s Le Corsaire were romantic dramas, which were permeated with picturesque images and violent passions and in which dance and dance pantomime were the principal means of expression.

In the 1830’s and 1840’s the romantic ballerinas M. Taglioni and F. Elssler toured Russia. In the 1840’s the Russian dancers E. A. Sankovskaia, E. I. Andreianova, and I. N. Nikitin performed in romantic ballets in St. Petersburg and Moscow, followed in the 1850’s and 1860’s by P. P. Lebedeva and M. N. Murav’eva. During this period, ballet occupied an important place in Russian art, developing in the mainstream of the national culture.

In the 1860’s and 1870’s, the romantic ballet experienced a decline in the works of the choreographers A. Saint-Léon (Pugni’s The Little Humpbacked Horse) and S. P. Sokolov (Iu. G. Gerber’s The Fern, or Ivan Kupala Eve) and in M. I. Petipa’s early ballets (Pugni’s Pharaoh’s Daughter), having gradually lost its dramatic integrity and content. At the same time, classical dance, in particular, was rapidly acquiring greater expressiveness. A new type of ballet appeared: the grand, or academic, ballet. Choreographers, first and foremost Petipa, devised complex dance compositions, in which a generalized image emerged out of the development and juxtaposition of dance phrases, arising from combinations of movements in solo and ensemble dances, the combinations of dance patterns, and the great variety of dance rhythms. The dance drama of the grand ballet came to be embodied in structural forms that were gradually developed and consolidated by various choreographers. These experiments were complemented by the emergence of mature musical dramas by symphonic composers. The highest achievements of late 19th-century ballet were Petipa and L. I. Ivanov’s stagings in St. Petersburg of P. I. Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty (1890), The Nutcracker (1892), and Swan Lake (1895) and A. K. Glazunov’s Raymonda (1898). Among the leading dancers of the 1870’s through 1890’s were E. O. Vazem, M. F. Kshesinskaia (Kchessinska), O. I. Preobrazhenskaia (Preobrazhenska), P. A. Gerdt, and N. G. Legat, as well as the Italians C. Brianza, P. Legnani, and E. Cecchetti, who toured in Russia. However, despite the achievements of the art of ballet in the 1890’s, the grand ballet by the end of the century was devoid of aesthetic interest and the dance theater was in need of reform.

In the first decade of the 20th century, both the form and content of ballet were updated, reflecting the general trends of Russian culture in general. The range of ideas and images expanded. The choreographer M. Fokine, keenly perceiving the distinctive features of the art of different eras, skillfully filtered them through the eyes of his contemporaries in such works as Les Sylphides (1908), to music by F. Chopin, Scheherazade (1910), to music by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and I. F. Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1911). Every component of Fokine’s ballets was subordinated to a single concept. Musical choreographic drama also underwent a change: instrumental works were often used as the basis for one-act ballets. In addition to classical dance, plastic and stylized ethnographic dances were introduced. The productions were designed by such major Russian artists as A. N. Benois, A. Ia. Golovin, and L. S. Bakst.

The choreographer A. A. Gorskii introduced innovative changes at the same time as Fokine. He revised and updated such 19th-century ballets as The Little Humpbacked Horse, Swan Lake, and L. Minkus’ Don Quixote, striving for an integrated production and logical plot development and creating realistic stage settings. Sometimes this led to a departure from the style of the original. Gorskii’s ideas were expressed most consistently in his own productions of A. Simon’s Gudule’s Daughter (1902) and A. F. Arends’ Salammbo (1910), which were noted for their tense drama and true-to-life characters. The artist K. A. Korovin was Gorskii’s principal collaborator.

Among the outstanding ballerinas of the period was A. P. Pavlova, who showed an interest in the work of the reformers but danced primarily in ballets of the old repertoire. Her best roles were the title role in Adam’s Giselle (choreography by Perrot, J. Coralli, and Petipa) and Nikia in Minkus’ La Bayadere (choreography by Petipa). Fokine featured the St. Petersburg dancers T. P. Karsavina and V. F. Nijinsky in his ballets. Among the leading dancers in Moscow were E. V. Gel’tser, V. D. Tikhomirov, and Fokine’s adherents S. V. Fedorova and M. M. Mordkin.

Early in the 20th century Russian ballet won world acclaim. Renewed by Fokine’s reforms, it exerted an enormous influence on ballet abroad and brought about fundamental changes in Western European choreography. Events such as Pavlova’s tours and the Russian Seasons of S. P. Diaghilev’s company contributed to ballet’s revival in many countries of Europe and the Americas.

Soviet ballet. After the October Revolution of 1917, ballet developed as part of a new multinational, artistically unified culture. Whereas permanent companies had formerly existed only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Soviet power made possible the formation of national professional ballet companies in all the republics. In the early postrevolutionary years the ballet theater faced serious difficulties. New dancers needed to be trained, since many dancers and choreographers had gone abroad, and the repertoire needed to be both preserved and updated. The 1920’s were characterized by a struggle between conflicting trends. The supporters of Proletkul’t (Proletarian Cultural and Educational Organization) asserted that classical dance and ballet as they had existed before the Revolution were obsolete, while ballet experts defended the value of the classical heritage. The search for new ideas engendered a new dance vocabulary as well. Many studios cultivated an interest in free dance, rhythmoplasticity, acrobatics, and the dance of machines. The choreographers of the academic theaters also experimented, attempting to express the grandeur of the events of the day. A number of important works emerged out of these experiments. In 1924, at the Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet, the choreographer F. V. Lopukhov made use of mass theater and revolutionary poster techniques in his production of V. M. Deshevov’s The Red Whirlwind (also known as The Bolsheviks), the first time that the Revolution was re-created on a large stage in the language of allegory and symbol. His 1923 ballet The Majesty of the Universe (also known as Dance Symphony), to Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, was the first dance symphony and forged new bonds between dance and music. Turning to the traditions of the folk theater, ever lively and satirical, Lopukhov staged Stravinsky’s ballets Pulcinella (1926) and The Fox (1927). He also developed the principles of 19th-century grand ballet in his work The Ice Maiden (1927), to E. Grieg’s music.

The miniatures choreographed by K. Ia. Goleizovskii to the music of C. Debussy (The Faun), S. S. Prokofiev (Fleeting Moments), A. N. Scriabin, and N. K. Metner, presented at the studio of his Chamber Ballet in the period 1922–24, conveyed an emotional perception of contemporary reality and revealed man’s innermost feelings. Goleizovskii’s most important work was his production of S. N. Vasilenko’s Joseph the Beautiful (1925) at the Bolshoi Theater, in which the theme of the victory of the spiritual over blind despotic power was depicted through the biblical legend. The innovativeness of Goleizovskii’s productions was evident in the dance vocabulary. The complicated sets of The Faun and Joseph the Beautiful enabled the dancers to be grouped in interesting ways, and the dance vocabulary was enriched through the use of unusual foreshortenings, lifts, combinations of movements, and free and acrobatic dance forms.

The first Soviet multiact ballet—R. M. Glière’s The Red Poppy (since 1957, The Red Flower)—was staged in 1927; choreographed by L. A. Lashchilin and V. D. Tikhomirov, it dealt with the revolutionary events in China and introduced the contemporary positive hero on the ballet stage. It preserved the form of a 19th-century production, with its divertissements, pantomime scenes, and dream scene, but used new techniques from related arts and the variety stage to update individual components. The sailors’ dance lablochko (Little Apple) was the first attempt to create the kind of mass heroic dance that was one of the achievements of the ballet theater of the 1930’s. The tendency to psychologize, evident in the character of Tao Khoa (Gel’tser), brought about a fusion of ballet and dance drama, which in the years that followed became the principal ballet genre.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s choreographers, striving for ever greater content, turned to literature and dramatic art. Continuous action and sharply delineated characters were obligatory in ballets based on the works of Pushkin, Shakespeare, Gogol, L. de Vega, G. Sand, and Balzac. An interest in individualized characters and in-depth psychological portrayal determined the nature of the best ballets. B. V. Asafev’s The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, with choreography by R. V. Zakharov (1934), was frequently performed in the 1930’s. The highest achievement of the period was the staging of S. S. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet by the choreographer L. M. Lavrovskii (Lavrovsky; 1940). The dramatic plot became the basis of the ballet, sometimes exceeding the music in importance. Choreographers no longer made use of large classical ensembles; instead, they made extensive use of acted dramatized dancing and pantomime. The dance vocabulary was enriched chiefly through folk dance elements. One of the major achievements of the 1930’s and 1940’s was the creation of large-scale heroic folk dances based on national material: the dance of the Basques in Asafev’s The Flames of Paris, choreographed by V. I. Vainonen (1932), and the Georgian khorumi in A. M. Balanchivadze’s The Heart of the Hills, choreographed by V. M. Chabukiani (1938).

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Soviet ballet gradually evolved a new performing style. M. T. Semenova revealed the harmony in classical dance and imbued it with vitality, imparting to her characters a noble majesty. The bravura dancing of A. N. Ermolaev and Chabukiani displayed a new and active perception of life. G. S. Ulanova, one of the greatest dancer-actresses of all times, gave new interpretations of the leading roles in such old ballets as Adam’s Giselle and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Her Maria in Asafev’s The Fountain of Bakhchisarai and Juliet in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet were characters of great tragic depth. Her heroines were endowed with determination, sincerity, and hidden power of feeling. K. M. Sergeev represented the lyrical romantic trend. The virtuosity of O. V. Lepeshinskaia affirmed an active, joyous view of life. Other major ballet figures include T. M. Vecheslova, N. M. Dudinskaia, A. M. Messerer, and M. M. Gabovich.

Ballet companies were founded in Sverdlovsk (1922), Baku (1922), Tashkent (the Russian Opera Theater, 1925), Saratov (1928), Kuibyshev (1931), and Gorky (1935). In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s new companies were formed in Moscow (V. V. Kriger’s Art Ballet; since 1941 part of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater) and in Leningrad (the ballet company of the Malyi Opera Theater; since 1964 the Malyi Theater of Opera and Ballet). By the late 1930’s, there were ballet companies in nearly all the Union republics and in many autonomous republics. Wherever Russian opera theaters or an indigenous national dance culture (sometimes including staged dances) had existed before the October Revolution, ballet was created more quickly on the basis of these traditions. In the Ukrainian SSR there were permanent ballet companies in the opera theaters of Kharkov and Kiev in the period 1919–25 and Odessa beginning in 1926; theaters were opened in Donetsk in 1939 and L’vov in 1941. In the Georgian SSR a professional ballet company was formed in 1921. There was a dance studio in the Byelorussian SSR in the 1920’s, and a theater was opened in 1933.

In the Middle Asian republics the course of ballet’s development followed a different path—the creation of theatrical (staged) dance based on folk art. In the Uzbek SSR ethnomusical groups were formed in the 1920’s, out of which the Uzbek Theater of Musical Drama was created in 1929. Musical and choreographic clubs and groups were the basis of theaters of musical drama in the Kazakh SSR (1934), the Tadzhik SSR (1936), and the Kirghiz SSR (1937), while an opera studio served as the basis in the Turkmen SSR (1937). These, in turn, led to the formation of opera theaters and their ballet companies in Tashkent (1939), Alma-Ata (1937), Dushanbe (1940), Ashkhabad (1941), and Frunze (1942). Theaters of opera and ballet were founded in the autonomous republics as well, including the Tatar ASSR (1939), the Buriat ASSR (musical drama, 1932; opera and ballet, 1948), and the Bashkir ASSR (1941).

Many national ballets were created in the 1930’s and 1940’s, such as M. I. Verikovskii’s Pan Kanevskii (the first Ukrainian national ballet; 1931), K. F. Dan’kevich’s Lileia (1940), and M. A. Skorul’skii’s Forest Song (1946) in the Ukrainian SSR; A. M. Balanchivadze’s Mzechabuki (revised as Heart of the Hills, 1938) in the Georgian SSR; A. B. Budalbeili’s The Maiden’s Tower (1940) in the Azerbaijan SSR; and A. I. Khachaturian’s Happiness (1939; second version, Gayane, 1942) and Khandut (1945), to music by A. A. Spendiarov, in the Armenian SSR. Other national ballets included M. E. Kroshner’s The Nightingale (1939) in the Byelorussian SSR; Shakhida (1939) by F. Tal and E. G. Brusilovskii’s Guliandom (1940), in the Uzbek SSR; V. V. Velikanov’s Kalkaman and Mamyr (1938) in the Kazakh SSR; V. A. Vlasov and V. G. Fere’s Anar (1940) in the Kirghiz SSR; A. S. Lenskii’s Du Gul (Two Roses; 1941) in the Tadzhik SSR; K. A. Korchmarev’s Aldar-Kose (The Gay Deceiver; 1942) in the Turkmen ASSR; L. B. Stepanov’s The Crane Song (1944) in the Bashkir ASSR; and F. Z. Iarullin’s Shurale (1945) in the Tatar SSR. All of these productions, which were representative of the most typical form of multiact dramatic ballet of the 1930’s and 1940’s, combined classical dance and national dance, making extensive use of folk dances and rituals. National legends, the popular liberation struggle, and kolkhoz life provided the themes.

The training of gifted children from the various republics in the ballet schools of Leningrad and Moscow contributed to the formation of national ballet companies. Among the famous dancers of the late 1930’s and the 1940’s were G. G. Almaszade (Azerbaijan SSR), E. L. Gvaramadze (Georgian SSR), B. Beishenalieva and N. S. Tugelov (Kirghiz SSR), K. Dzhaparov (Turkmen SSR), M. Turgunbaeva (Uzbek SSR), A. I. Gavrilova (Ukrainian SSR), and Z. A. Nasretdinova and Kh. G. Safiullin (Bashkir ASSR). Various Russian choreographers, such as Goleizovskii, Lopukhov, Ermolaev, L. V. Iakobson (Jacobson or Yakobson), and N. S. Kholfin, worked in many republics, particularly during preparations for the ten-day festivals that have been held in Moscow since 1936. Russian composers, artists, and teachers also took part in this work. Young choreographers from the republics adopted the methods of the Russian experts, and many later studied in the dance department of the A. V. Lunacharskii State Institute of Theatrical Arts in Moscow.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the country’s ballet companies and schools continued working. New productions were mounted, such as Khachaturian’s Gayane, with choreography by N. A. Anisimova (1942), by the Kirov Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet, which had been evacuated to Perm’; V. A. Oranskii’s Lola, with choreography by V. P. Burmeister (1943), by the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater; and V. M. Iurovskii’s The Crimson Sails, with choreography by A. I. Radunskii, N. M. Popko, and L. A. Pospekhin (1943), by the Bolshoi Theater, which had been evacuated to Kuibyshev.

New performers emerged in the second half of the 1940’s and in the 1950’s, among them the talented dramatic ballerina A. Ia. Shelest. M. M. Plisetskaia (Plisetskaya), whose dancing is imbued with great expressiveness and passion, began performing during this period. In the RSFSR, R. S. Struchkova, V. T. Bovt, L. I. Krupenina, B. Ia. Bregvadze, and N. B. Fadeechev won great popularity, as did L. P. Gerasimchuk, E. M. Potapova, N. A. Apukhtin, and A. A. Belov in the Ukraine; A. V. Nikolaeva and S. V. Drechin in Byelorussia; I. A. Aleksidze, V. V. Tsignadze, and Z. M. Kikaleishvili in Georgia; L. P. Voinova-Shikanian, R. L. Tavrizian, T. G. Grigorian, and A. T. Garibian in Armenia; L. M. Vekilova and M. D. Mamedov in Azerbaijan; G. B. Izmailova in Uzbekistan; L. Zakhidova in Tadzhikistan; L. P. Sakh’ianova in Buriatia; A. Priede, J. Pankrate, A. Lembergs, and V. Vilcina in Latvia; G. Sabaliauskaitė and T. Svėntickaitė in Lithuania; and V. Hagus, A. Koit, and E. Joasoo in Estonia.

Many new ballets were staged, including Prokofiev’s Cinderella (1945) at the Bolshoi Theater, M. I. Chulaki’s Youth (1946) and The False Bridegroom (1949) at the Leningrad Malyi Opera Theater, and Glière’s The Bronze Horseman (1949) at the Kirov Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet. New ballets were added to the repertoires of theaters in the republics as well: G. V. Kiladze’s Sinatle (1947), D. A. Toradze’s Gorda (1949), and A. D. Machavariani’s Othello (1957) in the Georgian SSR; K. A. Karaev’s The Seven Beauties (1952) and The Path of Thunder (1958) in the Azerbaijan SSR; G. E. Egizarian’s Sevan (1956) and E. S. Oganesian’s Marmar (1957) in the Armenian SSR; I. I. Akbarov’s The Dream (1959) in the Uzbek SSR; V. V. Velikanov’s Kambar and Nazym (1950) in the Kazakh SSR; M. R. Raukhverger’s Cholpon (1944) in the Kirghiz SSR; S. A. Balasanian’s Leili and Medzhnun (1947) in the Tadzhik SSR; and A. Zaborovskii and V. Mukhatov’s Akpamyk (1945) in the Turkmen SSR.

In Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, where the process of mastering the skills of Soviet choreographic art was begun in the second half of the 1940’s, ballet theaters scored major successes. The first Soviet bajlets in the Latvian SSR were A. Liepics’ Laima (1947) and Ā. Skulte’s The Sakta of Freedom (1950); in the Lithuanian SSR, J. Juzeliūnas, On the Seashore (1953); and in the Estonian SSR, E. Kapp’s Kalevipoeg (1948) and The Gold Spinners (1956). In the Moldavian SSR, where a ballet company was founded at the opera theater in 1957, L. L. Kogan’s The Sisters (1959), V. G. Zagorskii’s Dawn (1960), and E. L. Lazarev’s The Broken Sword (1960) were among the national ballets performed. New ballets were created in the Buriat ASSR—L. K. Knipper and B. B. Iampilov’s Angara the Beauty (1959)—and in the theaters of musical drama in the Yakut ASSR, the Karelian ASSR, the Udmurt ASSR, and the Komi ASSR. In the RSFSR, new theaters of opera and ballet were founded in Novosibirsk (1945), Cheliabinsk, (1956), and other cities.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Soviet ballet built upon the best achievements of the preceding period, overcoming a tendency toward one-sided dramatization and the substitution of dream scenes and divertissements for meaningful dance. The role of music in ballet increased in importance, and dance became the principal means of expression. Soviet choreographers had laid the foundations of this trend as early as the late 1950’s. In Iu. N. Grigorovich’s staging of S. S. Prokofiev’s The Stone Flower (1957) and in I. D. Bel’skii’s staging of A. P. Petrov’s The Coast of Hope (1959), the plot is revealed through the development of musical and choreographic images. Young choreographers emerged alongside the old masters like Goleizovskii and Iakobson to seek out new themes and forms. There was a revival of old genres and forms, such as the one-act ballet, the dance symphony, and the poster ballet, and the vocabulary of dance was enriched.

The most significant works of the 1960’s and 1970’s were Iakobson’s stagings of F. Otkazov and G. I. Firtich’s The Bedbug (Leningrad, 1962) and B. I. Tishchenko’s The Twelve (Leningrad, 1964); N. D. Kasatkina and V. Iu. Vasilev’s productions of N. N. Karetnikov’s Heroic Poem (Moscow, 1964), Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (Moscow, 1965), and Petrov’s The Creation of the World (Leningrad, 1971); O. M. Vinogradov’s productions of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (Novosibirsk, 1965; Leningrad, 1976), Vlasov’s Asel’ (Moscow, 1967), M. M. Kazhlaev’s The Mountain Girl (Leningrad, 1968), and Tishchenko’s laroslavna (Leningrad, 1974); Bel’skii’s staging of R. K. Shchedrin’s The Little Humpbacked Horse (Leningrad, 1963); E. Ia. Changi’s production of E. A. Aristakesian’s Prometheus (Yerevan, 1967); Grigorovich’s productions of A. D. Melikov’s The Legend of Love (Leningrad, 1961), Khachaturian’s Spartacus (Moscow, 1968), and Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible (music arranged by M. I. Chulaki, Moscow, 1975); and Grigorovich’s new productions of Tchaikovsky’s ballets. The themes in these ballets were interpreted from a contemporary point of view, revealing man in all his complex interactions with reality. Not content merely to tell a story, choreographers created profound images with multiple meanings, often turning to poetic metaphor.

A number of new ballets were staged at the Bolshoi Theater, including S. M. Slonimskii’s Icarus, with choreography by V. V. Vasil’ev (1971; revised, 1976); Carmen Suite, with choreography by A. Alonso (1967) to Bizet’s music arranged by Shchedrin; Shchedrin’s Anna Karenina, with choreography by Plisetskaia, N. I. Ryzhenko, and V. V. Smirnov-Golovanov (1972); and A. Ia. Eshpai’s Angara (1976). Innovative productions were mounted with increasing frequency in the national republics and outlying areas. These included R. G. Akhundova’s and M. D. Mamedov’s staging of F. K. Karaev’s Shadows of Kobystan (1969) in Baku, A. F. Shikero’s staging of V. S. Gubarenko’s The Stone Commander (1970) in Kiev, and M. Murdmaa’s staging of E. M. Tamberg’s loanna Tentata (1971) in Tallinn, as well as productions by G. D. Aleksidze in Tbilisi, N. N. Boiarchikov in Perm’, M. S. Martirosian in Yerevan, G. A. Maiorov in Kiev, I. A. Chernyshev in Odessa, and V. N. Elizar’ev in Minsk. There was a noticeable revival of interest in Shakespearean themes. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet was restaged in Novosibirsk, Perm’, Kiev, and Tallinn. Several choreographers staged versions of Hamlet, among them N. A. Dolgushin (under the title Meditation, music by Tchaikovsky, Leningrad Malyi Theater of Opera and Ballet, 1970), Sergeev (music by N. P. Chervinskii, Leningrad Kirov Theater of Opera and Ballet, 1971), V. M. Chabukiani (music by R. K. Gabichvadze, Z. P. Paliashvili Georgian Theater of Opera and Ballet, 1971), and M. M. Mnatsakanian (music by D. D. Shostakovich, Petrozavodsk Musical Theater, 1971).

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the following dancers gained popularity: I. A. Kolpakova, E. S. Maksimova (Maximova), N. I. Bessmertnova, N. V. Timofeeva, A. I. Sizova, A. E. Osipenko, N. A. Kurgapkina, G. T. Komleva, V. V. Vasil’ev (Vasiliev), M. E. Liepa, M. L. Lavrovskii (Lavrovsky), Iu. V. Solov’ev (Soloviev), Iu. K. Vladimirov, N. A. Dolgushin, V. V. Tikhonov, V. M. Gordeev (Gordeyev), V. Sh. Galstian, V. P. Kovtun, M. A. Sabirova, H. Puur, T. Randviir, B. R. Karieva, V. F. Kalinovskaia, I. V. Menovshchikova, L. V. Gershunova, N. V. Pavlova, and L. I. Semeniaka (Semenyaka).

Soviet ballet companies often tour abroad, affirming the world renown of Soviet ballet. Choreographers have mounted a number of productions in the socialist countries and in France, Sweden, Austria, and Finland. Soviet specialists have organized ballet schools in Japan, Cuba, the Arab Republic of Egypt, Algeria, and many other countries. An international ballet competition has been held regularly in Moscow since 1969. Young Soviet ballet dancers have often won first prize in competitions in Bulgaria (Varna), Japan, and other countries.

There are 42 theaters of opera and ballet in the USSR (1975). Ballets are also performed in musical theaters and, occasionally, in theaters of operetta and musical comedy. There are a total of 17 ballet schools.



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