Can Journalism Be Danced? From the History of 19th Century British Ballet

Yulia I. Agisheva


In 1898 the ballet titled The Press was staged at the Empire Theatre in London. Choreographer and producer Katti Lanner, composer Leopold Wenzel and costume designer C. Wilhelm made a nontrivial attempt to transfer the sphere of journalism into the space of dance. Austrian dancer, pedagogue and choreographer Katti Lanner went down in the history of ballet theatre not only as the first woman who made a career as a choreographer but as the inventor of a new genre — the ‘entertaining revue’. The choreographer’s productions were often based on modern plots. Besides the ballet The Press, Lanner’s artistic output included such ballets as The Sports of England, The Paris Exhibition and others. The music director of the Empire Theatre, Italian composer Leopold Wenzel was Lanner’s collaborator in a number of her productions. Wenzel was the composer of art songs, orchestral works, operas and music for ballet. Scenographer C. Wilhelm, who supplements this triumvirate, was one of the most successful and prolific theatre designers of that time.

At the same time, most information about the creators and the production of the ballet The Press is almost absent in academic scholarly literature. This article examines the features of scenography and music of the ballet, its place and role in the history of the ballet theatre of Great Britain in the 19th century. The attempt is made to reconstruct some of the elements of the ballet. Of no small importance is the inverse response – critical materials of the main “protagonists” of the ballet on the pages of British newspapers from 1898 from archival sources, as well as rare pictures. The question of whether or not it is possible to recount about journalism in the language of dance is one of the most crucial questions raised in the article.

Keywords: British ballet, the 19th century, the Empire Theatre, Katti Lanner, Leopold Wenzel, C. Wilhelm, the Press ballet

For citation: Agisheva Yu.I. Can Journalism Be Danced? From the History of 19th Century British Ballet [Electronic source]. In: Sovremennye problemy muzykoznaniya / Contemporary Musicology, 2023, № 2, pp. 47–67. DOI: 10.56620/2587-9731-2023-2-047-067


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Copyright (c) 2023 Yulia I. Agisheva

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