Soviet Communism’s Contribution to World Culture – Igor Moiseyev


2 thoughts on “Soviet Communism’s Contribution to World Culture – Igor Moiseyev

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  1. This is a very nice, balanced portrayal of this form. Still, Moiseyev’s contribution is highly controversial from an aesthetic and cultural point of view. He did not simply turn ethnic dance into an art form, he produced a sort of “cultural genocide through dance”. The non-Russian dances he depicted were always too cute, too non-respectful, of the culture in question. His Greek suite, which my wife and I had a chance to see in Moscow some years ago, depicted Greek men as foppish and silly. The stylized movements of the dances in the Serbian suite you included bear no relation to style or comportment of Serbs. This is not just for artistic license – look at the difference between the 2 Bulgarian suites included in your essay – both Moiseyev and Kutev subscribed to same artistic ends (folk ballet as distilling a national character into an artistic form), but look at how much more effective the Kutev version is than the Russian one. Despite the marvelous technique and choreographic artistry here, the stench of cultural hegemony creeps in.

    Moiseyev once said that if one truly understood the ethos of a people, one did not have to actually know what dances they did in order to effectively express that ethos through dance. Looking at his choreographies though, I am thinking about how we would feel if someone said that really well-done Blackface minstrelsy could adequately portray African American dance culture. Is it that impossible to portray things accurately, yet artistically? I think not. The groups “Lado” and “Tanec” and the Hungarian national ensemble (after Sandor Timar took over) proved you could have high art and not denigrate traditional dance.

    My problem is not about “authenticity”, or Folk ballet as an art form, it is about Moiseyev’s attitude toward other culture’s dance forms, and how he could have done better, if he had really wanted to.


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