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Dangerous Dances: Leonid Yakobson and Jewish Identity in Soviet Ballet

Janice Ross, Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University
Janice Ross will discuss the regulation of Jewish identity in 20th century Soviet Russia though the lens of ballet as an archive of cultural exile. Her talk, which includes rare archival videos and images from her research in Russia, Israel and the U.S., traces how the ballets of Yakobson (1904-1975), the leading experimental voice in mid-20th century Soviet ballet, created a rupture with Socialist Realism by embracing a modernist aesthetic and valorizing shunned images of the cultural outsider in Yakobson’s signature work, Jewish Wedding.
Yakobson was the target of highly successful strategies of erasure and silencing during his most productive years, years that coincided with the quarter century of Josef Stalin’s regime of  terror. (1922-1953). Her research was propelled by questions about how Yakobson represented on stage the displacement caused by maintaining a Jewish identity in ballet. It is about the “Why?” underlying the censorship Yakobson was subjected to for attempting to inscribe a corporeal presence of Jewishness on one of the most regulated Western ideals of the pure, culturally unmarked body – Russian classical ballet at the Kirov and Bolshoi Ballets.
Janice Ross is a Professor in the Theater and Performance Studies Department, and Faculty Director of the Freshman Arts Immersion Program, ITALIC, at Stanford. She will speak about the regulation of Jewish identity in 20th century Soviet Russia though the lens of ballet, drawing on material from her newest book Like A Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia (Yale University Press, January 2015).



Friday, January 30, 2015. 12:00 PM


CCSRE Conference Room


Sponsored by the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. Co-sponsored by Theater and Performance Studies and The Department of Music




Free and open to the public.Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.