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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swans of the Kremlin, 19 Feb 2013
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Mr. G. M. Roebuck (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Swans of the Kremlin: Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia (Paperback)
Classical ballet was perhaps the most visible symbol of aristocratic culture and its isolation from the rest of Russian society under the tsars. In the wake of the October Revolution, ballet, like all of the arts, fell under the auspices of the Soviet authorities. In light of these events, many feared that the imperial ballet would be disbanded. Instead, the Soviets attempted to mold the former imperial ballet to suit their revolutionary cultural agenda. Christina Ezrahi's book reveals, they were far from successful in this ambitious effort to gain complete control over art.

Unlike some academic books or a PhD thesis turned into a book Swans of the Kremlin, is an easy to read study that offers a fascinating glimpse at the collision of art and politics during the volatile first fifty years of the Soviet period. Ezrahi shows how the producers and performers of Russia's two major companies, the Mariinsky (later Kirov) and the Bolshoi, quietly but effectively resisted Soviet cultural hegemony during this period.

Despite all controls put on them, they managed to maintain the classical forms and traditions of their rich artistic past and to further develop their art form. These aesthetic and professional standards proved to be the power behind the ballet's worldwide appeal. These two companies soon became the showpiece of Soviet cultural achievement, as they captivated Western audiences during the Cold War period. Based on her extensive research into official archives, and personal interviews with artists and staff, she documents their struggles in the post-revolutionary period, during the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s, and concludes with their monumental productions staged to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the revolution in 1968.

The book might have benefited by having more interviews but this readable academic study raises some interesting comparisons such as Lavrovsky's drama ballets created in the Soviet Union with Balanchine's work in America both choreographers having graduated within a year of each other from the Mariinsky ballet school.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, 4 April 2013
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This review is from: Swans of the Kremlin: Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia (Paperback)
Whilst I have limited knowledge of ballet and no expertise regarding the Russian Revolution, I have found myself encapsulated whilst reading this academic piece- which is extremely informative and substantiated with detailed research- yet enables the reader to picture and sense the emotions and delicacies of the era. With the current affairs, this read has made it even more interesting. I would highly recommend it to any reader- not only those who have academic or artistic interest in Russia/ballet.
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Swans of the Kremlin: Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia
Swans of the Kremlin: Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia by Christina Ezrahi (Paperback - 1 Mar 2013)
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