Abstract

Abstract:

This essay explores the history, political significance, and artistic legacy of The Carmen-Suite, a ballet based on Prosper Mérimée's novella, choreographed and staged by Maya Plisetskaya and Alberto Alonso in 1967. This ballet initially premiered as part of the commemorative ceremonies marking fifty years of Soviet rule, but rather than contribute to the celebration of Soviet ballet aesthetics, Plisetskaya's Carmen challenged every element of Soviet ballet classicism, triggering an immediate performance ban by the Ministry of Culture and charges of deviance and eroticism. The ban was further complemented by a carefully constructed media campaign meant to erase any memory of this performance and reframe it as a meaningless "eroticized" spectacle. The essay argues that while The Carmen-Suite has been theorized within ballet narratives of heteronormativity and the sensuality of the exotic Other, this Soviet-era work explicitly highlighted and exposed the system of constant oversight and control that permeated Soviet society. The plot of The Carmen-Suite was adapted by Plisetskaya to represent an artist destroyed by a repressive regime. In this work, she embedded a veiled but potent critique of the Soviet regime, readable to the Soviet audience, exposing the existence of state repressions and control through intricate interaction among the set design, choreography, and technique. The essay further demonstrates that Soviet cultural authorities were fully aware of the risk posed by the subversive ballet to the stability and viability of Soviet cultural production, and they went to great lengths to eradicate the memory and significance of this performance.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 191-209
Launched on MUSE
2019-06-28
Open Access
No
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