Sirotkina I. E. Dancing under Instruction: Creating “Soviet Mass Dance” in the 1920s (.pdf) 


Annotation: In his book on the history of creating “self-made art” in the USSR, Igor Narskiy describes a paradox: “self-made” art managed from the top, creativity under instruction, controlled independent art. In the article, the author discusses how, in the mid-1920s, the Soviet state attempted to introduce control over what traditionally was under-stood as the most direct, spontaneous and free, the “Dionysian”, kind of dance (in Russian, plyaska). In some respect, free dance yielded to pressure, although it resisted in other aspects. The author examines the 1920s as the period pre-ceding the frames of Igor Narskiy’s research. In the period, the political control over art was not yet total, and it produced some very grotesque institutional forms like the governmental department of mass plyaska. This directly affected the so-called salon or social dances, including tango and foxtrot. They were labeled “bourgeois” and forbidden at public dancehalls. In the 1920s, tango, foxtrot and other jazz dances were replaced by the “mass plyaska” and “physical culture dance”. The author looks at the individuals who were involved in the process, to understand whether they suffered or strived working within the Soviet system. 


Key words: mass dance (plyaska), physical culture dance, mass dance instructor, the Soviet self-made art, foxtrot.


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