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'Lost ballet' exhibition opens at library, April 1


A new exhibition, "Le Pas d'Acier (The Steel Step): Re-Creating a Lost Ballet," will open Friday, April 1, at the Milberg Gallery for the Graphic Arts in Firestone Library.

Planned in connection with the campus performance April 7-9 of Sergei Prokofiev's "Le Pas d'Acier," the exhibition will include a model reconstruction of the ballet's set created by theater historian Lesley-Anne Sayers and photographs and drawings of the original 1927 production. The gallery also will showcase photographs, children's books, costume designs and program covers from the period drawn from the holdings of the library's special collections.

The Princeton production will be represented by photographs documenting the re-creation process, costume designs, choreographic drawings by ballet reconstructionist Millicent Hodson, and a costume and props that will be used in the April performances.

"Le Pas D'Acier" was written as a celebration of Soviet industrialization that Prokofiev hoped would endear him to Russian authorities. But budget constraints and a change in choreographers led to a scaled-down version of the ballet being performed in Paris in 1927 by the Ballets Russes. That production mocked industrial development instead of lauding it, causing a political scandal. The work has not been performed since 1931.

For the last three years, assistant professor of music Simon Morrison has been leading a team to re-create the ballet as it was originally conceived. They will bring the ballet to life exactly the way Prokofiev intended it in three performances at the University's Berlind Theatre on April 7, 8 and 9 (see the Feb. 21, 2005, issue of the Princeton Weekly Bulletin for more information).

Morrison will give an opening lecture titled "Finding a Lost Ballet" at 5 p.m. April 1 in 101 McCormick Hall. A reception in the gallery will follow from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the exhibition will run through Sept. 25. Hours are: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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