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Costumes of the Pavley-Oukrainsky ballet: a material history analysis

Faculty Advisor




Pavley-Oukrainsky ballet, dance company, costumes, garments, ballet companies, Museum of Performance and Design, Oukrainsky’s personal collection, early-twentieth century America, material culture methodology, first independent American ballet company

Abstract (summary)

In the early-twentieth century, ballet companies were beginning to form across the United States. This study explores selected costumes worn by founding members of the early-twentieth century Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet dance company and a variety of historical documents pertaining to the company from the collection of the Museum of Performance and Design to explore how the makers of the garments used exotic influences as inspiration which helped to develop a new genre of ballet in the United States. These sources will help answer the question: how can the analysis of costumes shed light on the historical significance of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet? Few researchers have observed the costume artifacts addressed in this study despite their importance as material records of what may be the first independent American ballet company. The artifacts constitute the main supporting evidence for the study and are contextualized by a variety of biographical documents, including a published biography of Andreas Pavley, two autobiographies by Serge Oukrainsky, newspaper clippings, and other media-related sources like programs, photographs, and private correspondences from Oukrainsky and the later owners of Oukrainsky’s personal collection. All primary sources come from the Museum of Performance + Design in San Francisco. Using a material culture methodology, four costumes are explored in case studies: a loincloth, torso ornament, cuff, and crown. The descriptions, deductions, and speculations of each artifact are combined with primary and secondary sources of information about the company in order to contextualize and understand the role of dress in the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet and, indirectly, the place of the dance company in early-twentieth century America.

Publication Information

Chartrand, Josée. "Costumes of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet: a material history analysis." Dress 47, issue 1 (2020): 45-60. 10.1080/03612112.2020.1762345.


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