On March 15th 2023, Olga Sapanzha gave a lecture on ballet in the Soviet Union, and how elite art became crucial in everyday life, as part of the “First Position. Russian Ballet” exhibition project’s educational programme.
Yuri Vizbor wrote the song “The Tale of Technologist Petukhov” in 1964. The refrain lines(“But we make rockets and block the Yenisei, and even in the field of ballet we are ahead of the whole planet”) were understandable to every Soviet person, because by this time, ballet had become an essential part of everyday activities, such as reading the news, seeing reviews in magazines, watching TV programs, buying ballet-themed china and perfumes.
During the lecture, we discussed ballet from the point of view of its mass perception and how this originally aristocratic art was incorporated into the daily lives of Soviet citizens, who had a wide knowledge of ballets and ballet dancers. People were fascinated with mass choreography, and many took extracurricular ballet classes to learn this art. Plots, images, symbols of ballets and their material representation in the space of everyday culture were examined on the examples of classical and Soviet ballets.
Guest speaker: Olga Sapanzha, Doctor of Cultural Sciences, professor, director of the Institute of Art Education at the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, director of the museum “XX Years after War. Museum of Everyday Culture of Leningrad, 1945-1965”. Author of more than fifty publications on the history of Soviet everyday culture.