Pas d'Acier
2005 Exhibition in Princeton, USA. For full exhibition list click here.

Georgi Yakoulov: archive portrait, Lesley-Anne Sayers collection

On April 7, 8, 9 Princeton University will stage Serge Prokofiev's infamous 'Soviet' ballet, Le Pas d'Acier, originally conceived in 1925. The project is being directed by Professor Simon Morrison, a musicologist specializing in Russian music and ballet. The ballet will be developed from the research of ballet/theatre historian Lesley-Anne Sayers, and staged by internationally renowned reconstructors Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer. Hodson is developing new, source-based choreography to take the ballet back to its original conception and its roots Soviet musical theatre, dance , and revolutionary era of the 1920s.

This production will use an unpublished scenario co-written by Soviet designer Georgi Yakoulov and Serge Prokofiev in 1925. The original ideas for the staging and narrative content were adapted for the ballet's premiere by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1927. This project aims to present the ballet as collaboratively conceived in 1925. It is therefore the first staging of the music alongside the action for which it was written

In conjunction with the ballet performance, an exhibition in the Leonard L. Milberg Gallery for the Graphic Arts in Firestone Library will open on April 1, 2005. “Pas d'Acier (The Steel Step): The Re-creation of a Lost Ballet” will feature a model reconstruction of Yakoulov's design, built by Peter Sayers from the research of Lesley-Anne Sayers. The visually-spectacular set of the ballet, which will be performed in the Berlind Theatre, is a replica of the one that originally was planned for the ballet by Yakoulov. Dr. Sayers spent eight years researching and creating models of the set, which is a stylized mechanical world of brightly colored spinning wheels, gears, levers and a rotating conveyor belt representing factory life. Surrounded by Yaloulov's original drawings for the set, this model promises to be highlight of the exhibit. The exhibition will also present documentation of designs from the 1927 Paris production: photographs, drawings, as well as posters from the Meyerhold Theatre where the original 1925 production would have taken place.


Drawing on the holdings of the Library's Special Collection - especially materials from the Graphic Arts Collection, the Allison Delarue Collection of theater and dance materials, and the Cotsen Children's Library. The exhibition opens with a snapshot of the Ballet s Russes from the first two decades of the twentieth century. Early Ballets Russes productions created images of exotic escapism, revived a world of romantic fairytales, and introduced the folklore of early Russia. We see children's books of that era, a vivid costume design by Leon Bakst, neo-classical program covers of period productions, and modernist Picasso costume drawings. The manuscript sketch of George Antheil's Ballet mecanique, along with the Pianola rolls, helps demonstrate the fast changing artistic styles, progressing toward the eventual interaction with constructivism represented by Pas d'Acier. The Princeton production will be represented by photographs documenting the re-creation process, costume designs, choreographic drawings by Millicent Hodson, and a costume and props used in the April performance.

The opening will be preceded by a lecture to be given by Professor Morrison of the Princeton Music Department, "Finding a Lost Ballet" at 5:00 pm, April 1 in McCormack 101 and will be from 6 pm - 8 pm in the Leonard L. Milberg Gallery in Firestone Library.

The exhibition will remain open through September 25, 2005.

Funding for the entire campus projects has come from a wide variety of sources, including the Friends of the Princeton University Library: the Council for the Humanities, the Department of Music, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, the Office of the President, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the Program in Theater and Dance, the Program in Russian Studies, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, and the United Kingdom Humanities Research Board.


In addition, an on-line Alumni Studies course, "How Ballet Works: Dance, Music and the Reconstruction of a Lost Masterpiece" will begin March 9, and will be taught by Professor Morrison. For further information contact Kaitlin Lutz at klutz@princeton.edu or 258-0014.