Awakening 'Sleeping Beauty': The Creation of National Ballet in Britain

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The post-war reopening of London’s Royal Opera House in 1946 has long been viewed as a turning point in policy-makers’ pursuit of national culture: the opulent new pro- duction of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet seemed to abandon the wartime emphasis on amateur involvement in the arts in favour of a more elitist preoccupation with international prestige. By resituating the opening night within the broad history of mid-century British ballet culture, this article offers an alternative perspectiveç one that reveals the production to be far from straightforwardly elitist. In particular, it explores why ballet’s perceived reliance on spectacle made it a problematic vehicle for national culture. It also sheds new light on how the European art canon was appropriated in an attempt to bring Britain the international renown that many con- sidered the hallmark of a ‘truly national culture’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-448
Number of pages31
JournalMusic and Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Issue cover date: August 2015

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