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Reference: Buhrle, IJ, (2016). Dances of death from Paris to Saint Petersburg: suicides in ballet. European Drama and Performance Studies.Citable link to this page:


Dances of death from Paris to Saint Petersburg: suicides in ballet

Abstract: One of the most famous ballet films of all times, Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes from 1948, ends with a death which raises many questions – suicide, accident or involuntary act provoked by the diabolical red shoes? The film reflects the mystery surrounding the death of numerous protagonists throughout ballet history, for instance Giselle, who also loved dancing too much, or Odette and the prince in Swan Lake. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which saw the flowering of the court ballet in France and the subsequent emergence of the “ballet d’action”,1 dance was mainly used for joyful divertissements, and it seemed inappropriate to let the protagonists of a ballet kill themselves on stage. The irreligious, unappetizingly violent act of suicide seemed equally at odds with the poetic universe of the Romantic ballet, the well-ordered system of the tsarist regime and the optimistic and pragmatic ideology which prevailed in Soviet Russia. In Western Europe, the experience of the two World Wars gave rise to a wave of ballet suicides of unprecedented variety and realism. The poetic, romanticized suicide of the earlier centuries was complemented by the more realistic suffering in the “psychological” ballets which came up during the second half of the twentieth century. Since suicides in ballets often correspond to a work’s literary or historic source, it might seem difficult to look for the specificity of the ballet suicide. However, the choice of these sources and the ways in which choreographers of different periods have adapted them reveal some information about characteristic trends of suicides in ballet.

Peer Review status:Peer reviewedPublication status:PublishedVersion:Accepted manuscriptNotes:The Frenchmag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Bibliographic Details

Publisher: The Frenchmag

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Journal: European Drama and Performance Studiessee more from them

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Issue Date: 2016Identifiers

Urn: uuid:0c7a3cbd-11ca-4cdf-8b09-46d0dd781847

Source identifier: 611358

Issn: 2045-8541 Item Description

Type: Journal article;

Version: Accepted manuscript Tiny URL: pubs:611358


Autor: Buhrle, IJ - institutionUniversity of Oxford Oxford, HUM, English Faculty - - - - Bibliographic Details Publisher: The Frenchmag



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