Case Analysis Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo Dance Troupe

Topics: Ballets Russes, Dance, Ballet Pages: 8 (2914 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Ballets Russes|


For my final paper, I chose to watch the documentary Ballets Russes. This documentary recalls the history of the legendary dance troupe Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The documentary includes in depth interviews with many of the original members of Ballet Russe of Monte Carlo dance troupe. Through analysis of these in depth interviews, I was able to observe many aspects of the ballet culture. Such aspects include things such as social roles, language, authority, expressive culture, as well as the struggle for power. Before watching this documentary, I had no experience whatsoever with the ballet culture. I feel that my lack of knowledge and experience with the culture will ensure that my observations and determinations will be solely based on the documentary Ballets Russes. This will be a pure etic observation of the ballet culture.

This documentary was not shot in one particular spot, rather, it switched between the homes of the former ballet members as well as several different dance studios. The documentary also featured previously recorded films of the original ballet performances. Much of the infrastructures can be seen through these historic clips. These infrastructures included buildings such as the theatres the ballet troupes performed in. Mentioned in the film were the Royal Opera House Concert Gardens and Drury Lane Theatre both located in London; as well as the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Many of the former stars filmed their recollection of events, usually shot in what I would assume to be their homes. Their homes appeared to be very nicely decorated, with a baby grand piano located in one of the homes. The Ballet Russe Company brought high standards not only to the techniques of the dancers in a specific dance, but also to the detail they put into decorating their sets as well as costumes. Not only did they bring that high standard to every performance, but many believe that they were the first ballet company to start the trend of bringing those high standards to every performance. Their companies hired some of the best and most well known artists of their time to design their sets, such as Picasso, as well as to design their costumes, such as Chanel. This type of trendsetting was not only confined to the decoration of the set and costumes, but also music used during the ballet performances. All of the music heard throughout the performances was symphonic music, music produced by artists such as Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, or Petrushka. Although this form of music was well liked by the public, it still stirred controversy within the critic’s community. One specific instance would be Petrushka’s work “The Rite of Spring” playing during one of the ballet performances. This song was regarded as having willful rhythms and aggressive dynamics, which was apparently not a good thing back then in the ballet world. Because of so much negative feedback, it had to be cut after just a few performances. There is also quite a bit of technology displayed within the documentary. Because this is a documentary that includes some modern day recollection of events, as well as many of the original film clips of the dance company, there are two distinct eras of technology. I was able to observe one unique aspect through the observance of the short, previously recorded clips of the ballet performances; all of the clips appear to be in black and white. During the original days of their performances after the two ballet companies, the Original Ballet Russe and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, were forced to retreat to the United States during the war riveted times of the Hitler regime. They were able to make the trip through the use of rather unsteady boat. The trip was an uneasy one due to the fact that half way through the trip, the dancers described the boat as rocking back and forth making some of their fellow dancers sea sick. Not to...
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