I.                    Historical Background of Russian Politics

a.       Treaty of Union in December 1922

i.      The Soviet Union was formed under the treaty of the union in December 1922.  This document was signed by Russia and three other union republics: Belorussia (Belarus), Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.  Under the treaty of the union, Russia became known as the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR)

b.      Congress of People’s Deputies

i.      Elected in March 1990
ii.      The congress elected Boris N. Yeltsin in a free and competitive vote.  Yeltsin was a protégé of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (1985-1991), but was exiled from the top party echelon.
iii.      1990-1991:  RSFR enhanced its sovereignty by introducing republic branches of organizations.

1.      Communist Party, The Academy of Sciences, Radio and Television Broadcasting Facilities, and the Committee for State Security
2.      1991:  Russia created the executive office of presidency.

c.       Yeltsin voted as president in June 1991

d.       Boris Yeltsin as President

i.      Utilized his role to trumpet Russian sovereignty and patriotism
ii.      Role of president was a major factor in the collapse of the coup by hard-line government and officials against Gorbachev.

1.      Coup leaders were attempting to overthrow Gorbachev in order to stop his plan to sign a confederation treaty that they deemed would be the fall of the Soviet Union.

a.       Yeltsin opposed the coup leaders.

b.      Yeltsin’s opposition led the “power ministries” that controlled areas of great importance-the military, the police, and the KGB to not obey the coup leaders.
iii.      Baltic States received full independence on September 1991.
1.      Estonia
2.      Latvia
3.      Lithuania
iv.      In 1991, Yeltsin received budgetary control over Gorbachev’ government. 

1.      Yeltsin and the leaders of the Ukraine and Belarus formed the Commonwealth of Independent States.  At Alma-Ata, on December 21st, all parties declared that the 1922 treaty of union creating the Soviet Union was annulled, and actually stating that the Soviet Union never existed.  Russia gained international recognition as the principal successor of the Soviet Union.  It also received the Soviet Union’s seat on the United Nations Security Council.  

vi.      Congress of People’s Deputies:  The CPD met in an emergency session in late September 1993 and noted Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy as president.  They voted to impeach Yeltsin.

1.      On September 27th, the military surrounded the “White House” or the legislative building, but 180 delegates refused to come out.  After a two-week standoff, tanks fired on the White House.

d.      Political Overview

I.      Russia has been faced with grave challenges in the past years in its efforts to introduce a political system that will follow a totalitarian rule. 

II.                 The Politics between the West and Russia

a.       A true account of a young Russian boy who has welcomed the Western art of break-dancing into his life.  The younger Russian generation has moved away from the Anti-American sentiment and embraced.  The older generation has yet to incorporate many Western ideas due to their disdain for the Western culture.

i.      Cossak dance: cross-armed crouching dance, or a type of floor-like can can, which represents the Russians’ close connection with the land.


III.               The Political Effects on Russian Ballet History

a.       In the 17th century:

i.      Ballet was introduced by second Romanov ruler Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich (1629-1676) for his wedding. 
ii.      Peter the Great returned to Russia after a tour of the West and decided to modernize Russia.  He introduced western dress and encouraged innovations in the way of the arts, politics, and economics.  He also took an interest in dancing at his court by bringing in Western dances and enjoying them himself.
iii.      Jean-Baptiste Lande (1734-1748):  Empress Anna was so impressed by a recital of the students of Jean Baptiste that she started the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School in 1738.
iv.      Directorate of the Imperial theaters was given control over ballet under Catherine the Great, who was a great patron of the arts.

1.      Under the direction of Filippo Beccari at a Moscow orphanage in 1774

v.      1801: Charles Didelot initiated the first great period of Ballet. 
1.      Maryinksy
2.      Kirov

IV.              Natasha’s Dance

a.       Orland Figes, Professor of History at Birbeck College wrote a book called Natasha’s Dance

i.      During a book launch in 2002, Figes discussed that Russia is too complex and too divided politically for a national culture to be a part of a national identity.

1.      He also said that “artistic myths” about the Russian culture were influential in shaping Russian political ideas.
2.      “Figes stated that nowhere else has the artist been so burdened with the task of national leadership and because of this nowhere has the artist been more feared or persecuted by the state.  He noted that because Russian artists were alienated from official Russia by the politics and peasant Russia by their education, they attempted to create a national identity through literature and art.”
3.      19th century Russia was divided by language, education, politics, and class.  Figes suggests that through its artists is the only way a sense of collective Russian identity was forged.
4.      The Russian arts have served as the battle grounds for religious debates, philosophical and political hearings in the lack of a parliament or free press due to their political system.

ii.      War of 1812
1.      The Aristocratic Russia
2.      The Peasant Russia
3.      Ignited by the patriotic spirit of the serfs, the aristocracy of Natasha’s generation, the young girl in Natasha’s Dance, began to break away from the foreign conventions and began to look for a new nation based on solely Russian ideals.

a.       They went out into the countryside with the peasants and learned folklore, peasant dance and music, with the goal of educating the common man.

b.      Men even denounced their social position and married poor serfs.

iii.      Major Cultural Movement of the 19th Century Centered Around:
1.      the Slavophiles, with their myth of the “Russian Sole”
2.      the peasantry, with their myth of a natural Christianity
3.      the westernizes, with their cult of St. Petersburg

a.       All three played a vital role in shaping the ideals of Russian politics today.  The Slavophiles idea of Russia as a “patriarchal family” of grass-roots Christian principles was the seed for a new political community which drew supporters from the provincial gentry, the Moscow merchants, the priesthood, and certain members of the state bureaucracy.

b.      These also influenced Russia’s position on free trade and foreign policy.