About the participant of “Diaghilev P. S.”-2023: “The National in the Contemporary” Round Table

Dear friends, we are pleased to present one more event of the awareness building block of “Diaghilev P.S.”-2023. On 24 November the Khlebozavod space will host “The National in the Contemporary” round table organized by the Festival jointly with the Masters school.


Culture has reflected the issues of the national, authentic, and folk since these concepts emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. The issues of one’s own national identity and its expression, as well as the appeal to the tradition and style of other cultures occupied the minds of creators. For example, composer Mikhail Glinka became both the official inventor of Russian opera and the author of the Spanish style in music, as composer Manuel de Falla called him. In the 19th century, artists, musicians, writers, and ballet dancers composed fantasy lands. A significant cultural milestone was the fascination with the Orient and Antiquity preceded by scientific discoveries and increasing trading ties. 

Over time, the concept of the national has been transformed. Today, in the 21st century, it has become important to hear the authentic voices of the world’s peoples and to explore the true cultural traditions of different regions. The global success of choreographers Akram Khan telling about the Indian culture and traditional Kathak dance and Sidi Larbi Sherkaoui translating Shaolin martial arts to the stage evidences a widespread interest in the search for roots and reflections on the native culture. 

The theme of the national and the traditional in the context of modernity is fundamentally important Diaghilev P. S. Festival. Since the first years of the Festival existence, its guests have been original and relevant authors who set the comprehension of their own national identity and the study of the features of the collective national portrait as their creative task. Along with the already mentioned masters Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Sherkaoui, the Festival presented dancer and choreographer Saburo Teshigawara who found parallels between Japanese culture and Dostoevsky, the “Noism” dance company which delicately linked Petipa’s conventionally Indian “La Bayadere” with the codes of medieval Japan, and Irish choreographer and researcher Breandan de Gallai who used the legacy of the Irish traditional dance in his work on “The Rite of Spring:, to St. Petersburg. 

The theme of the national and multicultural is directly connected with Sergei Diaghilev and his company, the Russian Ballet. Diaghilev’s dancers became famous in Europe in the “oriental” ballets of the early years, the most famous being Mikhail Fokine’s “The Blue God”. And some of the company’s most famous productions, Vaslav Nijinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” and Bronislava Nijinska’s “The Wedding”, conceptualized Slavic traditions.


Within the frames of the XIV season of Diaghilev P. S. Festival the participants of the round table will consider how the concept of the national is transforming in the contemporary world, how it is seen in various spheres of culture – from fashion and architecture to theater, music and dance; why we should talk about the culture of different peoples in the contemporary world and how to do it, whether the today’s world affects the way we formulate the issues of the national and how we reflect on it.


The round table will be attended by experts and theorists in fashion, architecture, music, theater, contemporary dance and ballet: Alexei Retinsky, composer, resident of the Radio House; Katerina Rostovtseva, producer of cultural projects and manager of the musicAeterna folk project; Marina Gisich, founder of the Marina Gisich Gallery of contemporary art; artist Ulyana Podkovyrova; Tufan Imamutdinov, director, manager, one of the founders of the “Alif” theater association; Anastasia Proshutinskaya, curator of the dance programs of the GES-2 House of Culture and researcher of the contemporary dance; Ilya Pechenkin, historian of architecture, head of the Chair of Russian Culture of the Faculty of History of Arts of the Russian State Humanitarian University; Elena Bespalova, art expert, art historian and author of the book “Bakst in Paris”.


Producer Katerina Rostovtseva, musicAeterna folk:

The need to have a sense of belonging is one of the strongest human needs. In the context of globalization, it is manifesting itself anew. People have a natural desire to feel involvement in authentic culture, even if they know little about it.


Anastasia Proshutinskaya, curator and researcher, GES-2:

I work with the contemporary dance. Modern dance searched for universal foundations, laws of harmony and movement applicable everywhere and for everyone. Postmodern dance is of course critical of such ambitions. It is necessary to take account of the local context. But what does this mean?


Ilya Pechenkin, historian of architecture, the Russian State Humanitarian University:

The 19th century was “the century of nationalisms”, when the major powers of the Old World puzzled over self-identification through ethno-cultural traditions. The case of the Russian Empire is particularly vivid. The theme of “the national revival” was based on the reception of Western romantic views. At the same time, “Russian” turned out to be primarily a subject of cultural construction.