Browsing by Author "Laakkonen, Johanna"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-1 of 1
  • Laakkonen, Johanna (2008)
    The study explores the first appearances of Russian ballet dancers on the stages of northern Europe in 1908 1910, particularly the performances organized by a Finnish impresario, Edvard Fazer, in Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin. The company, which consisted of dancers from the Imperial Theatres of St. Petersburg, travelled under the name The Imperial Russian Ballet of St. Petersburg. The Imperial Russian Ballet gave more than seventy performances altogether during its tours of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and central Europe. The synchronic approach of the study covers the various cities as well as genres and thus stretches the rather rigid geographical and genre boundaries of dance historiography. The study also explores the role of the canon in dance history, revealing some of the diversity which underlies the standard canonical interpretation of early twentieth-century Russian ballet by bringing in source material from the archives of northern Europe. Issues like the central position of written documentation, the importance of geographical centres, the emphasis on novelty and reformers and the short and narrow scholarly tradition have affected the formation of the dance history canon in the west, often imposing limits on the historians and narrowing the scope of research. The analysis of the tours concentrates on four themes: virtuosity, character dancing, the idea of the expressive body, and the controversy over ballet and new dance. The debate concerning the old and new within ballet is also touched upon. These issues are discussed in connection with each city, but are stressed differently depending on the local art scene. In Copenhagen, the strong local canon based on August Bournonville s works influenced the Danish criticism of Russian ballet. In Helsinki, Stockholm and Berlin, the lack of a solid local canon made critics and audiences more open to new influences, and ballet was discussed in a much broader cultural context than that provided by the local ballet tradition. The contemporary interest in the more natural, expressive human body, emerging both in theatre and dance, was an international trend that also influenced the way ballet was discussed. Character dancing, now at low ebb, played a central role in the success of the Imperial Russian Ballet, not only because of its exoticism but also because it was considered to echo the kind of performing body represented by new dance forms. By exploring this genre and its dancers, the thesis brings to light artists who are less known in the current dance history canon, but who made considerable careers in their own time.