A ballet that receives a trigger warning over the death of a puppet on stage

Petrushka - Alastair Muir

Petrushka – Alastair Muir

A ballet has been given a trigger warning over the death of a magic puppet on stage.

Russian dance pieces composed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky were found “potentially disturbing” by academics at the University of Aberdeen.

The 1911 ballet Petrushka now comes with a trigger alert warning students of the violent death of a lead character, but the note states that “the character in question is actually a puppet.”

Since Scheherazade and Rite of Spring have triggered warnings, the piece about the triple magic puppet reenactment isn’t the only ballet work that scholars find potentially distressing.

For the 1910 ballet Scheherazade, based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s music, students are forewarned that the work “will result in both murder by stabbing and suicide”, although “the action is implied rather than censored (no blood!). .

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which shocked Parisian audiences at its 1913 premiere, may still shock students, as it “famously ended with a young woman dancing to her death.”

A content note for Aberdeen’s Ballets Russes music module, seen by The Telegraph, states that at the end of Stravinsky’s Petrushka there is “a death scene (again by stabbing), but the character in question is actually a puppet. (Or is it him?)”

Petrushka’s title character is a puppet brought to life along with two others, a Ballerina figure and “Moor”, a character that Aberdeen’s music department warns about, often depicted with a black face. .

‘Insult and humiliation’

Warnings are issued in accordance with Aberdeen’s content warnings policy, which states that academic staff must alert students to material that may be “potentially offensive”.

He adds: “Students’ mental health and well-being is the primary concern of the school. In the spirit of inclusiveness, it is therefore the duty of all faculty to ensure that students are aware of the course content so they are prepared for anything they may find offensive.”

Christopher McGovern, head of Campaign for Real Education, claimed that the warnings were “part of a deliberate strategy to destroy what is seen as ‘high-brow’ Western culture”.

He added: “It is humiliating and humiliating to assume that young people cannot cope with emotional difficulties. On the contrary, they need such challenges to cope with daily life.”

Warnings for dances staged by Ballet Russes are the latest content notes to be published by Aberdeen for important art and literature in the Western canon, along with advice previously published in Beowulf for “animal cruelty” and “proficiency.”

University linked for comment.

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