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Albion's DanceBritish Ballet during the Second World War$
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Karen Eliot

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347629

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347629.001.0001

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The Function of the Classics in Wartime

The Function of the Classics in Wartime

(p.111) 5 The Function of the Classics in Wartime
Albion's Dance

Karen Eliot

Oxford University Press

In the 1930s, audiences became interested in 19th-century classic Russian ballets. Audience reception of the spectacular works was solidified during World War Two, mainly due to the efforts of the Sadler’s Wells and the International Ballet. Both worked with Imperial Ballet régisseur Nicolai Sergeyev. De Valois followed a modernist bent, using updated mime and contemporary easel artists to design sets and costumes. In her role as a presenter Inglesby employed designers from popular theater. The classics (Le Lac des Cygnes, Giselle, The Sleeping Princess, and Coppélia) were appealing for their spectacle and virtuosity—qualities that critics said afforded audiences temporary escape—and for signaling stability, history, and a future civilized world. Both directors contributed to Britain’s postwar reputation for excellence in performing the multi-act ballets: de Valois through her efficient updating of the 19th-century ballets, and Inglesby through her efforts to introduce the classics to new audiences across Britain.

Keywords:   19th-century ballets, International Ballet, Mona Inglesby, Nicolai Sergeyev, Le Lac des Cygnes, Giselle, The Sleeping Princess, Coppélia, the classics

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