The Rise, Fall, and Renaissance of Shostakovich's Third Ballet: Reconciling "The Bright Stream" with Post-Soviet Culture
Pugh, Erika E
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Adrian Johannes Wanner, Thesis Supervisor Irina Mikaelian, Honors Advisor
Ballet Propoganda Shostakovich Lopukhov Piotrovsky Putin Ideology Cultural Identity Censorship Socialist Realism Soviet Union USSR Russia Russian Federation Stalin Ratmansky
Dmitri Shostakovich’s last and most controversial ballet, "The Bright Stream," was set on a Soviet collective farm in the 1930’s as an attempt to reconcile classical ballet with Socialist Realism. Despite its initial success, the ballet caused a scandal and was banned less than a year after its 1935 premiere, remaining untouched until 2003 when Alexei Ratmansky recreated it to worldwide success. Using reviews and memoirs from Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia, this thesis provides a contextual backdrop to "The Bright Stream" and discusses the ballet’s relationship with its creators, critics, political ideology, and cultural identity. It analyzes the problem of implementing Socialist Realism in classical ballet, as well as the issues surrounding the reception of Stalinist culture in present-day Russia. This thesis concludes that Ratmansky’s revival of "The Bright Stream" displays his love and appreciation for Soviet dance, music, and cultural heritage despite the ballet’s complex relationship with government and politics, both past and present. Furthermore, Ratmansky was able to achieve this objective while simultaneously evoking, without directly commenting on them, the horrors of collectivization by showing modern audiences the falsehoods that Soviet citizens were subjected to.