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Crossing the Stages:
The Production, Performance and Reception of Ancient Theater


Thomas A. Pallen
Theatre History
Austin Peay State University

Dance and Ancient Drama: The Connection Between Siracusa and Hellerau

Sophocles' Women of Trachis (Siracusa, 1933)

Perhaps the greatest challenge involved in modern productions of Greek drama centers on the chorus, especially in regard to the question of music and movement. In 1914, the producers of Aeschylus' Agamemnon at Siracusa, Sicily, entrusted the difficult problem of choreography to members of the Geneva School of Jaques-Dalcroze. Emile Jaques-Dalcroze had first opened a school or laboratory of dance at Hellerau, near Dresden, where he developed and taught the form of movement called Eurythmics. Although best known to modern theatre historians through its connection with Adolphe Appia, the Hellerau school and Eurythmics quickly developed an international fame. This presentation explores the connection between Eurythmics and the productions of ancient drama at Siracusa, an alliance that continued in cycles presented in 1927, 1930, 1933, 1936, 1939, 1948, 1950, and 1952. During these years, three choreographers of the Dalcroze school worked at Siracusa: Valerie Kratina, Jia Ruskaja, and Rosalie Chaldek. In 1990, the latter received an Eschilo d'Oro, the highest award presented by the Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico, which sponsors the Siracusa productions. In addition to written documentation, slides of still photographs of the work of these choreographers will serve as a basis for this presentation.

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