symphonic ballets

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The term used to describe several ballets choreographed by Massine during the 1930s which were settings of entire symphonies, including Les Présages (Tchaikovsky's 5th, 1933); Choreartium (Brahms's 4th, 1933), and Symphonie fantastique (Berlioz, 1936). Massine claimed to express the form and content of the music through pure dance, though some dramatic elements of character and symbolism were also conveyed. His use of symphonic scores outraged members of the music establishment who argued that they had not been written for dance, even though Massine was not the first choreographer to use symphonic music. Duncan had performed to Beethoven's 7th in New York, 1908; Gorsky had choreographed Glazunov's 5th, Moscow, 1915; and Lopukhov had set Beethoven's 4th in Dance Symphony, 1923. The term has dropped out of use and many choreographers use symphonies with impunity, such as Béjart's setting of Beethoven's 9th and Tharp's of Beethoven's 7th.

Subjects: Dance.

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