HSE Day: Learning History through Dance
On September 5th, 2019, HSE Day will take place in Gorky Park. This year, HSE research and education website IQ has prepared a surprise for the guests. IQ staff together with Irina Sirotkina, HSE visiting lecturer, are organizing a performance dedicated to mass Soviet dance.
Dance as a carrier of cultural code
Writer and literary critic Victor Shklovsky said that ‘dance is walking, which is felt.’ When people dance, something bright, joyous, and memorable enhances their usual emotions.
People have always danced, so dance can tell us about the past just as much as books, says Irina Sirotkina. The main thing is to be able to ‘read’ it and unpack the information hidden within it. There is a whole discipline of dance and movement studies, studied by theorists and practitioners: historians, anthropologists, ethnographers, dancers, choreographers, performers, and athletes.
Irina Sirotkina is a historian, a researcher of dance and movement culture, a research fellow at the S.I. Vavilov Institute for the History of Science and Technology (RAS) and visiting lecturer at HSE University. She is the author of the course ‘Dance and movement culture in history and modernity’ developed for HSE Faculty of Humanities. This open course has been delivered for about seven years, with not only HSE students, but also other participants attending these lectures. This year, applications for the course will open in September.
Features of the Soviet mass dance
Irina Sirotkina has long been engaged in dance and musical movement.
Musical movement is a Russian tradition, and includes both improvised and staged choreography which appeared under the influence of Isadora Duncan at the beginning of the 20th century. Part of the musical movement involves group dances, which appeared in the 1920s and 30s.
At that time a ‘social order’ for the creation of Soviet dance was issued in the USSR. The bourgeois dances of tango and foxtrot were banned, labelled ‘erotic’ and ‘unhygienic’. Thus, the ideology of the country was reflected in the Soviet mass dance.
Dive into the past through dancing
‘During this popular science performance we will feel like Soviet people of the 1930s. My assistant and I will show everyone the performance, and then we'll all dance together. It will be a physical understanding of the past Soviet era, which, I think, we haven’t experienced yet,’ says Irina Sirotkina.
No special training is needed: mass dances were created so that both adults and children could easily learn them
In addition to dancing, there will also be a lecture. Participants will discuss the history of our country through the prism of dance and methods of physical cognition of the past.
The performance of ‘Body knowledge and immersion in the era of mass Soviet dance’ will be held in the Professor's lecture hall. Time: 14.00-16.30.
More information about HSE Day venues can be found on the holiday website.