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JCA Dance Home Page

The Red Poppy

The Ballet Russe Collection

Ballet in one act staged in 1943 for the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo by Igor Schwezoff, after the original 1927 full-length ballet choreographed by Laschchilin and Tikhomirov for the Bolshoi Ballet.
Music by Reinhold Gliere.
Decor by Boris Aronson.
Ballet Russe premiere: Cleveland, October 9, 1943.

The ballet is set in a port in Kuomintang China in the 1920s; the dancer Tao-Hoa is exploited by the vicious capitalist Li Shan-fu, and gives her life to save the leader of the revolutionary crowd of coolies from the bullet of an assassin. She thus paves the way for the liberation of the Chinese people, and their Soviet comrades. It was frequently revived in the U.S.S.R. (though not recently), with the title changed to The Red Flower (to avoid associations with opium) and often with new choreography; e.g. Zakharov, for the Kirov Ballet, and Lavrovsky, for the Bolshoi Ballet, both 1949.

Horst Koegler, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet

The season's closest thing to a hit was Igor Schwezoff's one-act adaptation of The Red Poppy...a story about a dancing-girl..who is oppressed by a villainous capitalist. However, in response to wartime political conditions, Schwezoff made the capitalist a Japanese bar owner, while Taia-Hoa's friends included not only the Russian sailors of the original, but British and American soldiers as well.

Jack Anderson, The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

Below are various pictures and details of the scenery.

Closer view of #2 legs

Complete set

Border detail