On February 20, 2015 at the Society for Dance Research’s Dancing Economies Conference at Royal Holloway College, London, Janice Ross delivered a lecture, “Economies of Collectivization in Soviet Ballet through the works of Leonid Yakboson.” Find conference information here.
This presentation explored intersections of the USSR economic policies of collectivization and the ballet stage in Soviet Russia. It questions how, particularly during the Stalinist period, the economics of Communism played out on the ballet stage aesthetically and organizationally. Issues explored include: How did the planned economy of the USSR resonate on the bodies and structures of ballet production and performance, particularly in the mid 1940s to mid 1970s period in Leningrad? Where and in what manner did economies of Communist Socialism collide with cultural production? Using the resistant choreographer Leonid Yakobson as a case study, this research traces key aspects of the constraints, but equally importantly the underexplored affordances, of Soviet economic structures on emergent structures for dance making during this period. Drawing on rare archival videos and images from a just published monograph on Yakobson, Stanford Professor Janice Ross explored how Soviet state ownership of essentially all of the country’s cultural production resources through to the broad objectives for economic growth set by the state’s Five-year Plans, government control of virtually all aspects of the national economy – including setting the levels of wages and prices, controlling the allocation of resources, deciding what would be produced and how and where goods would be distributed – shaped the ballet body in Soviet Russia.