The Ballets Russes and Beyond

Music and Dance in Belle-Époque Paris

The Ballets Russes and Beyond

Belle-époque Paris witnessed the emergence of a vibrant and diverse dance scene, one that crystallized around the Ballets Russes, the Russian dance company formed by impresario Sergey Diaghilev. The company has long served as a convenient turning point in the history of dance, celebrated for its revolutionary choreography and innovative productions. This book presents a fresh slant on this much-told history. Focusing on the relation between music and dance, Davinia Caddy approaches the Ballets Russes with a wide-angled lens that embraces not just the choreographic, but also the cultural, political, theatrical and aesthetic contexts in which the company made its name. In addition, Caddy examines and interprets contemporary French dance practices, throwing new light on some of the most important debates and discourses of the day.


Advance Praise:
"This richly absorbing study of the Ballets Russes in Paris illuminates the interplay (both synthesis and disjunction) between music and gesture in modernist choreography on the lyric stage. Davinia Caddy makes a vital and beautifully written contribution to our understanding of ways of using the body in opera and ballet in the early twentieth century."
--Dr Susan Rutherford, University of Manchester --Choice

"Celebrated for its innovative modernist choreography and groundbreaking productions, the company serves as an excellent platform for the author's fresh perspective on the meaning of dance in this period."
"Caddy opens up new areas for debate in her contribution to the literature on this mesmerizing company."

Caddy’s monograph is sure to have a determining influence on musicology’s engagement with dance. With its broad reach and interdisciplinary focus, the book will appeal not only to musicologists and dance researchers, but also to art historians, theater specialists and literary scholars. As Caddy states in her introduction, The Ballets Russes and Beyond “strives to raise more questions than it answers” (p. 24); I have no doubt that this book will inspire many other interrogative and revisionist accounts to come of the Russian Ballet, and of twentieth-century dance more generally. It is to Caddy’s great credit to make a provocative intervention of this sort."

'This fascinating book is supported by visual examples and a copious bibliography. Much wider reading is provided in the footnotes (which readily links theoretical writings to the issues raised in the press) and French quotations are clearly translated and presented as parallel texts. The book will be of interest to scholars (and students) in music, musicology, dance history and art history. It is a significant and refreshing contribution to the field.' Helen Julia Minors, Slavonic and East European Review