One or Two Voices? Dance and Music in the Ballets Russes

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Abstract

One of the most important aesthetic innovations of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes was its shifting relations between music and dance. At first, the guiding principle was synaesthesia, linked to the Wagnerian concept of Gesamtkunstwerk but at the same time there were moves towards independence between the two media. Ballets by Fokine, Nijinsky and Massine are discussed here, followed by a range of examples from Nijinska’s Les Noces (Stravinsky, 1923) that demonstrate the new contrapuntal developments with the highest degree of sophistication

One or Two Voices? Dance and Music in the Ballets Russes

in Experiment

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References

2)

Maria Gorshkova quoted by Lawson p. 97.

5)

W. A. PropertThe Russian Ballet in Western Europe 1909-1920 (London: Bodley Head1921) p. 79.

6)

Henry Cope Colles“The Fusion of Music and Dancing: Le Sacre du Printemps,” The Times (London) 26 July 1913 p. 8; in Igor StravinskyLe Sacre du printemps”: Dossier de Presse ed. François Lesure (Geneva: Edition Minkoff 1980) p. 67. On the point of “matching” orchestration see also Cyril W. Beaumont Bookseller at the Ballet: Memoirs 1891 to 1929 (London: C. W. Beaumont 1975) p. 137.

7)

Emile Vuillermoz“La Saison russe au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées,” S.I.M.15 June 1913 (author’s translation). The original passage reads: “Quand donc s’aperçevra-t-on que les élèves de Dalcroze acquièrent une culture spécialement ‘métrique’: ils sont dressés à dénicher les ‘temps forts’ blottis dans les broussailles mélodiques. Quels services ce flair particulier peut-il rendre à des danseurs chargés d’extérioriser la rythmique moderne qui précisément méprise la barre de mesure et exigera bientôt sa suppression?”

10)

Marie RambertQuicksilver: An Autobiography (London: Macmillan1972) p. 54.

11)

Richard BuckleDiaghilev (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson1979) p. 185.

14)

Quoted by Tenroc p. 4.

20)

Arlene Croce“Dancing,” The New Yorker17 July 1989 p. 86.

22)

Boris de Schloezer“La Saison musicale,” La Nouvelle Revue française1 August 1923 p. 247 (author’s translation). The original passage reads: “C’est la musique qui est à la racine des choses; mais la danse qui s’en inspire qui s’en pénètre s’en détache aussitôt pour se développer selon sa nature propre. Il y a corrélation intime entre la danse et la musique; mais non dans le particulier non dans le détail. Cette absence de parallélisme qui aboutit même parfois à une sorte de désaccord à des effets de contraste dérouta maints spectateurs habitués à la traduction servile de la musique par le geste et l’attitude. Il y a pourtant ici un lien entre les deux éléments: c’est le rythme qui l’établit.”

25)

Igor Stravinsky and Robert CraftExpositions and Developments (London: Faber and Faber1962) p. 118.

26)

Stephen WalshIgor Stravinsky: A Creative Spring (London: Jonathan Cape2000) p. 366.

27)

Lynn GarafolaDiaghilev’s Ballets Russes (New York: Oxford University Press1989) p. 140.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Le Sacre du printemps, The Augurs of Spring (Hodson/Nijinsky). © 1912, 1921 Hawkes & Son (London) Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Limited, London.
  • View in gallery
    Les Noces, Tableau 1, “allegro,” unison group. © 1922, 2006 Chester Music Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Chester Music Ltd., London.
  • View in gallery View in gallery
    Les Noces, Tableau 4, women in horizontal pyramid. © 1922, 2006 Chester Music Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Chester Music Ltd., London.

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