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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the intersection of modernist aesthetics and danced adaptations of Shakespeare in the twentieth century. It situates the discussion in a wide spectrum of danced interpretations, but focuses primarily on the attenuated narratives and economic form of three one-act danced versions of the tragedies: Robert Helpmann’s Hamlet (1942), José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane (1949, based on Othello), and Limón and Pauline Koner’s Barren Sceptre (1960, based on Macbeth). The article explores the way in which all three respond to modernist psychological and skeptical interpretations of the plays that drive not only the presentation of character, but also the spatial design of the choreography. The chapter considers how these pieces also exploit Shakespeare’s individual presentation of nonlinguistic forms of communication.

Keywords: modernism, expressionism, Shakespeare, psychology, dance-drama, ballet, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth

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