Lee G.K. Singh

Graduate Student

AB, cum laude: Mount Holyoke College (Dance) 

MHA: University of Iowa (Health Administration)

Research Areas

Ballet, Dance studies, Cultural history, Social history, Institutional history

Contact Information
Department of History

Lee Gurdial Kaur Singh is a PhD Candidate in Modern Russian History. Her research methodology blends a historian's critical assembly of archival traces from the past with a dance studies scholar's inquiry into how dancing bodies make meaning. Singh's dissertation, "Cultivating Soviet Ballet: _The Red Poppy_ at the Bolshoi Theater, 1927-1960," investigates how ballet—an art form intimately associated with the Russian imperial family and European courts of centuries past—was made to epitomize Soviet socialist culture. The project explores how ballet changed as it was made "Soviet," especially how Soviet artists developed new methods for embodied storytelling. Singh examines three versions of the ballet _The Red Poppy_ at the Bolshoi Theater (1927, 1949, 1957) and puts those versions in the contexts of domestic gendered expectations in Soviet Russia and Soviet international relations. She delves into the collaborative production processes at the Bolshoi Theater through stenographic records of meetings and institutional correspondence. She also analyzes dancers' bodies and movement through archival photographs and film fragments. In addition to considering ballet repertoire and production processes, this project brings to light the Bolshoi Theater's audience development activities. Singh reveals that, through outreach efforts and embodiment of the Soviet cultural project to politically educate and enlighten mass audiences, in this period in Soviet Russia, ballet became a form of popular culture.

Conference Papers

2020 "In Defense of Drambalety: A Decisive Stage in the Development of Twentieth-Century Ballet," American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Conference, San Diego, CA

2019 "Aleksei Ermolaev, the Creative Brigade, and the Ascription of Authorship for the ballet _The Red Poppy_ (1949)," Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Convention, San Francisco, CA

2019 "Mobilizing the Masses: Enlightening Soviet Audiences at the Bolshoi Theater," Dance Studies Association Conference, Evanston, IL

2019 "'The Great Appropriation:' Early Soviet Ballet's Inheritances," Canadian Association of Slavists Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2019 "Soviet Ballet's Big Breakthrough: _The Red Poppy_ at the Bolshoi Theater (1927)," Western Slavic and Eurasian Association Conference, San Diego, CA

2016 "Repetition with a Difference: Giselle's Mad Scene Informs Critical Dance Studies," Comparative Literature Graduate Student Conference, UCLA

2015 "Curious Credit: Giselle and Art for Socialism's Sake," (dis)junctions Graduate Student Conference, UCR


Committee Members

Kiril Tomoff (chair), Ann Goldberg, Dana Simmons

Awards Received

2016-2017 Outstanding Teaching Assistant, Department of History, UCR