Adolph Bolm’s Cinematic Ballet

The Spirit of the Factory

in Experiment
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This article is an attempt to place Adolph Bolm’s ballet, The Spirit of the Factory, staged at the Hollywood Bowl with a cast of sixty dancers into the context of the choreographer’s oeuvre and explain how an avant-garde ballet, danced to dissonant accompaniment, could have been so well received by American audiences in the 1930s. A “neo-constructivist” work that was uniquely Hollywood in its inception, with a dual connection to film and the particular atmosphere of the resplendent outdoor Hollywood Bowl, how such a work came to be raises many questions about the sources that inspired Bolm.

Experiment

A Journal of Russian Culture

References

1

Cyril W. Beaumont, Complete Book of Ballets (New York: Garden City Publishing Company, 1941), cited in Naima Prevots, Dancing in the Sun: Hollywood Choreographers 1915-1937, (Ann Arbor: umi Research Press, 1987), pg. 168. The authors would like to thank Naima Prevots for comments on an earlier draft of this essay.

8

George Amberg, Ballet in America: the Emergence of an American Art, (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949), pg. 20.

9

Jane Pritchard, “Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes—An Itinerary. Part 1: 1909-1921,” Dance Research, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Summer, 2009): pg. 149.

19

Adrienne L. McLean, Dying Swans and Madmen: Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008), pg. 115.

21

Adolph Bolm, “On with the Dance,” The Screen Guild Magazine (July, 1937): pg. 3. Box 2, Folder 34, abc.

25

Isabel Morse Jones, Hollywood Bowl, (Los Angeles: G. Schirmer, Inc, 1936), pp. 147-148.

31

Souvenir Programs, Ballet Theatre, 1940, Box 2, Folder 22, abc.

33

Lynn Garafola, “Dance Film, and the Ballets Russes,” Dance Research, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1998.

36

Nikolai Evreinov, Istoriia russkogo teatra s drevneishikh vremen do 1917 goda. (New York: Chekhov Pub. House, 1955) pg. 312.

37

Lesley-Anne Sayers, “Sergei Diaghilev’s ‘Soviet’ Ballet: Le Pas d’Acier and Its Relationship to Russian Constructivism,” Experiment, Volume 2 (Charles Schlacks, Jr., Publisher: Los Angeles, 1996), pg. 111.

38

Alexander Chepalov, “Nikolai Foregger and the Dance of Revolution,” Experiment, Volume 2 (1996), Charles Schlacks, Jr., Publisher: Los Angeles, 1996), pg. 363.

39

René Fülöp Miller, The Mind and Face of Bolshevism (London: G.P Putnam, 1927), pg. 182.

40

See Alexandra Shatskikh, Vitebsk: The Life of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), pg. 337.

41

Lucien Zacharoff, “The Soviet Ballet,” The American Dancer, (November: 1932), pg. 10.

43

Levy, The Russians are Coming: Russian Dancers in the United States, 1910-1933, pp. 157-158. Also see article in this issue of Experiment by Debra Levine.

44

Valerian Svetloff, “Aesthetic School of the Russian Ballet,” The American Dancer (March, 1931): pg. 30.

46

Adolph Bolm, “How I arrange my ballets and dances,” London: Dancing Times (Reproduced in full on AdolphBolm.com. http://www.adolphbolm.com/html/Articles/Bolm/How-I-Arrange-My-Ballets-and-Dances.html).

47

Norman Bel Geddes, Horizons, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1932) pg. 156.

61

Anita Spier, “Adolph Bolm Sees Great Future for Dancers in Motion Pictures,” The American Dancer (May, 1930): pg. 9.

62

Levy, The Russians are Coming: Russian Dancers in the United States, 1910-1933, pp. 329-330.

Figures

  • Design for Adolph Bolm’s Ballet Intime by Nicholas Remisoff.

    courtesy of the nicholas remisoff collection, university of southern california

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm and company standing in front of posters for the Adolph Bolm Ballet.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm in front of posters for Bolm Ballet Intime.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm on the set of The Mad Genius with John Barrymore, 1931. Photograph by Bert Longworth, Warner Brothers.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

    View in gallery
  • Publicity photograph of Adolph Bolm in Hollywood, 1934.

    courtesy of the los angeles examiner collection, university of southern california

    View in gallery
  • Rehearsal of Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Rehearsal of Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Rehearsal of Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archive

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archive

    View in gallery
  • Rehearsal of Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931. Robert Bell (posing in lunge) is in ballet slippers. Bolm is observing from the audience.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archive

    View in gallery
  • Publicity photograph for Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931. Photo by Moss Photo, l.a.

    courtesy of the adolph bolm collection, music division, library of congress

    View in gallery
  • Publicity photograph for Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931. Photo by Moss Photo, l.a.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Publicity photograph of Adolph Bolm rehearsing The Spirit of the Factory, Hollywood Bowl, 1931. Photo by Moss Photo, l.a.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Costume design sketch for Elise Reiman’s costume in The Spirit of the Factory, ca. 1931. The handwriting is in Russian, presumably by the designer, Nicholas Remisoff.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Illustration of Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory by Robert Lee Eskridge, ca. 1931-1932.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archives

    View in gallery
  • Illustration of Adolph Bolm’s The Spirit of the Factory by Robert Lee Eskridge, ca. 1931-1932.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archives

    View in gallery
  • Modern Ballet Advertisement, most likely by Robert Lee Eskridge, ca. 1931-1932.

    courtesy of the los angeles philharmonic archive

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm’s Lament from Bach Cycle, Hollywood Bowl, 1936.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm rehearsing Bach Cycle at Falcon Studios, 5610 Hollywood Blvd, 1937. Photograph by Otto Rothschild.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery
  • Adolph Bolm Ballet, Chicago. Dancer: Berenice Holmes. ca. 1920s.

    courtesy of the ralph faulkner collection

    View in gallery

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