Thesis Title: Fairy Tales en pointe: Ballets That Made the Tale & Tales That Made the Ballet
Supervisor: Professor Diane Purkiss
Doctoral Research: My research celebrates the affinity between fairy tale forms and Romantic ballet (distinct from opera and other performing art forms) as a storytelling medium throughout the long nineteenth century. While ballet can certainly be credited with giving new life to an old tale, like Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, we must also recognize its ability to create a relatively original one: ballets such as La Sylphide (1832), Giselle (1841), and Swan Lake (1877/95) literally made, from an array of folkloric source material, the stories of undying love and unwitting betrayal that we know today. I am studying various performance records—includinglibretti and choreographic records from the ballet companies, as well as criticism in newspapers like The Spectator—in order to articulate select ballet narratives and analyze their contextual significance. I am particularly interested in how the 19th-century feminization of ballet affects the way some types of fairy tale are constructed, portrayed, and consumed—both then and now. Ultimately, I aim for my work to comprise a critical tale collection that illustrates ballet's unique, female-centric contributions to the fairy tale canon.
Research Interests: British Romanticism/Victorianism; fairy tale & folklore collecting; Romantic ballet history; literature in the performing arts; female authors, characters, & themes