T. V. Portnova
Friday 9 November 2018 by Libadmin2018


The article for the first time analyzes the problems of historiography and iconography of "Russian Seasons" by S.P. Diaghilev (1872-1929) on the examples of both national and foreign art and visual sources available in the art collections throughout the world. Contemporary understanding of the role of material sources, which are important, sometimes the only source for studying Diaghilev’s ballets, despite the increased interest in them, is still a phenomenon, whose importance is not always properly evaluated by art historical science. Historiographical issues are stated on the basis of the theoretical analysis of the Russian and foreign experts, one way or another touching upon S. Diaghilev’s ballet enterprise since 1907 and till 1929. Iconographic aspect represents the author’s own research in the field of dance at the turn of XIX-XX centuries, which determines the relevance and novelty of this study. The author aims to highlighting the different directions of iconography, its variants and principles, which can be traced mainly through exhibitions and expositions dedicated to the "Russian Seasons", as well as Museum and private collections, partly reproduced in rare ancient publications (books and magazines), published at the turn of the century. In consequence of the systematization of the vast visual material, the specificity and structure of the fixed ballet character is revealed for the first time depending on the species and genre features of the works of art. The author reveals several iconographic models of dance fixation depending on the motivation of the idea, author’s concepts, composition solutions, and other components of the creative process when working on the character. Against this background, the article determines the necessity of studying historiographical and iconographic material about Russian ballet of concerned historical period. Thanks to the pictorial imagery of the depicted character (the dance scenario, the actor in the role, the costumed portrait, the sketch of the movement, the theatrical poster, etc.), there is a valuable opportunity to study Russian choreography against the background of complexities associated with the nature of its immanent qualities of the artistic language, since dance lives only when performed, while graphics, painting, and sculpture remain descendants. The visual material under study, as an invaluable source, comparable to the modern virtual representation, allows us not only to learn new things, but also to expand and deepen our knowledge about S. Diaghilev’s organizational abilities, ballet dancers and choreographers, who worked with him, about artists, who depicted fleeting moments of dance. The provisions and conclusions of this article, included in the general context of the era, will be useful both for the theory of art and for the practice of ballet theaters.

Keywords: ballet historiography, iconographic principles, S. Diaghilev, “Russian Seasons”, pictorial material, the theme of the dance, the structure of the character.

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