Jun 15, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

RUS 293 - Performing Russia: The Ballets Russes


Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes was a dynamic enterprise that defined multiple artistic trends and movements in the early twentieth century. The troupe and those associated with it changed over the course of its twenty-year existence (1909 -1929), but during that period they always remained under the scrutiny of its founding impresario, Diaghilev. A master curator, Diaghilev brought together some of the most interesting artists, composers, dancers, choreographers, fashion designers, and personalities of the era, which resulted in a maelstrom of creative and collaborative output, the impact of which still resonates in the present day across artistic mediums. From the scandals to the massive successes, this course examines some highlights of the Ballets Russes, looking at visionary choreographers, such as Fokine, Nijinsky, Nijinska, and Balanchine, world-renowned visual artists, like Picasso, Matisse, and Braque, genre-breaking composers, such as Debussy, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky, and even a few guest appearances by Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel. We also will consider the role of “Russianness” in Diaghilev’s project and how it changed over the course of the group’s history as Russia itself changed in tandem with the ever-changing political landscape of Europe in the early twentieth century. Finally, what is the Ballets Russes’ legacy? How has this group of artists creating and performing in the first decades of the twentieth century influenced the arts and culture into the present day? Our discussions will focus on topics such as theoretical approaches to media; the ways in which the Ballets Russes engaged with movements such as constructivism, cubism, futurism, impressionism, expressionism, neoclassicism, primitivism, surrealism, and symbolism; the role of nationality and nationhood in the self-exoticizing trends of the early Ballets Russes works versus later ones; othering and the role of gender and race in the Ballets Russes’ mythos. These topics will be considered through readings from varied disciplines, such as dance and performance studies, musicology, art history, cultural studies, and literary studies.

Satisfies Dance minor requirement.
Satisfies the Cultural Diversity requirement.