The Reforms of Michel Fokine

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The Reforms of Michel Fokine

Photography, painting, videography, and literature have all progressed over time. New technology, and new ways of thinking have brought these arts to new levels. There seems to be a broad misconception, though, that ballet is an art form that does not progress; does not change. Many people assume that ballet's set vocabulary of movement places limitations on how far the art can expand. Little do many people realize that this vocabulary is a mere foundation for the myriad of interpretations that the art went and will continue to go in. Michel Fokine is one revolutionary ballet choreographers, whose reforms have taken this previously monotonous art to a new level.

Fokine's ideas were revolutionary for his time, but ironically made perfect sense. He believed that all of the elements in a ballet should be parallel. In other words, he thought that the music, costuming, makeup, movements, and sets should all reflect the same culture and time period of the ballet. During this time in ballet there were often incongruencies. For example, there would be Russian music, and pointe shoes in a ballet that supposedly was based on a foreign medieval culture. Fokine was extremely and consciously consistent in his works. Fokine explains, "The ballet should be staged in conformity with the epoch represented."

Fokine sets his 1911 ballet, Petrouchka, in Russia. The first scene is a street fair, which Fokine sets appropriately. He is sure to make the costumes realistic of that time and place. Rather than dressing the dancers in tutus and leotards, they wear dresses that are brightly colored and long. They are bundled up appropriately in many colorful layers, considering the chilling temperatures of Russian winters. They also do not wear pointe Atkins 2

shoes with long laces, but instead high heel character shoes that were typical of the time period. Fokine also successfully creates personalities for the three dolls, partly...
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