Wilson Center Projects
Ballet for Socialism's Sake (and Beyond)
Lee Gurdial Kaur Singh is a dance scholar and historian of Soviet cultural life. Her first book project illuminates the processes through which Soviet artists and officials transformed ballet—an art form intimately associated with the Russian imperial family—into a form of socialist popular culture intended to nurture Soviet citizens to be builders of socialism. In addition to its domestic popularity, ballet became a primary instrument of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian international cultural influence. This project contributes deeper understandings of artists' integration into the Soviet cultural project, creative responses to socialist realism, collaborative creativity, dancers' agency and women's agency in ballet production, change over time in ballet's methods of embodied storytelling, ballet's enduring popularity in Russia, the construction of twentieth-century popular culture, and functions of the arts in modern societies. Singh earned her PhD in Modern Russian History from the University of California, Riverside, in June 2021.