Variety Stage Dance

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Variety Stage Dance


a genre of stage dance consisting of short, usually entertaining routines and employing laconic means of choreographic expression. The origins of variety stage dance can be traced to folk dance. Early forms of the genre in Russia, dating from the mid-19th century, included performances by dancers in Russian and Gypsy choruses and at popular celebrations. In the early 20th century a new stage genre appeared featuring skits, satirical songs and dances. These were the first comedy routines based on folk motifs, a tradition that is maintained today. Before World War I, salon dances and decadent dances were popular on the variety stage. They were based on ballroom dances fashionable at the time, such as the tango and cakewalk, and were embellished with acrobatic effects.

The Soviet variety stage inherited the technique and stage experience of the prerevolutionary theater, but the repertoire had to be updated. New types of dances, including the topical dance miniature, appeared in the early 1920’s. These dances were vigorous in rhythm and movement, and the best of them were characterized by dramatic wholeness, ideological content, and clarity of expression. Shows featured dance routines based on everyday movements and employing hilarious effects.

In the process of its development, variety stage dance has exercised a significant influence on all Soviet choreographic art. Today it is usually seen in full-evening concert programs. The dances, performed by artists of many nationalities, are closely linked with the culture of the peoples of the USSR.


Kuznetsov, E. Iz proshlogo russkoi estrady. Moscow, 1958.
Russkaia sovetskaia estrada, 1917–1929: Ocherki istorii. Moscow, 1976.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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