Ballet and Dance score restorations

Within The Quota - May 4, 2017

Within The quota poster.jpg

In collaboration with the London-based ensemble Penguin Cafe, Princeton University has reimagined Within The Quota, a pantomime-ballet from 1923. Within The Quota, with a score by Cole Porter, responded to restrictive immigration quotas based on national origin that were enacted in 1921. The ballet has been newly allegorized as an act of resistance to nativist calls within the Trump administration. Students of the Princeton University Ballet will mount the production in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 7:30 pm, and Porter's music will be performed live in a new arrangement prepared by Simon Morrison and the Penguin Cafe, whose ten members are traveling to Princeton for the show. Backdrops, based on the famous original design featuring newspaper headlines, have been created by students at the Stuart Country Day School. The performance will begin with selections from Penguin Cafe's newest album, "The Imperfect Sea." 

Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall
Princeton University - Princeton, NJ


Music for athletes/Fizkul’turnaya muzyka (2009)

Princeton banners replace Soviet banners in this modern, whimsical interpretation of "Music for Athletes." (Photo: Brian Wilson)

Princeton banners replace Soviet banners in this modern, whimsical interpretation of "Music for Athletes." (Photo: Brian Wilson)

Premiere production of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev's "Music for Athletes," restored by Princeton music scholar Simon Morrison at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

The composition -- lost amid Soviet-era political tumult but uncovered by Morrison during research for his book on Prokofiev -- was performed by acclaimed Russian pianist Ilya Itin as part of a program titled "Prokofiev Old and New: From Beloved to Unknown" and danced by Princeton students and alumni.

"Prokofiev's 'Music for Athletes' is cheerful, sardonic music composed for a scary political cause: a Stalinist (totalitarian) display of the physical prowess of Soviet youth," Morrison said. "Prokofiev composed it in 1939 as a favor to the eminent Russian theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold, the intended choreographer. Meyerhold was arrested while the performance was being prepared in Leningrad (he was in political trouble at the time of the commission). What survives of the aborted project is a messy handwritten manuscript in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art and some performance instructions."...

Mark Morris (left) and Simon Morrison Credit: Joanne Savio

Mark Morris (left) and Simon Morrison
Credit: Joanne Savio

Romeo and Juliet (2008)

Simon Morrison - music restoration
Mark Morris - direction
Mark Morris Dance Group - dancers

Morrison restored the scenario and score of the original (1935) version of this ballet for the Mark Morris Dance Group. The project involved orchestrating act IV (featuring a happy ending) from Prokofiev’s annotations and rearranging the order and adjusting the content of acts I-III. This version of the ballet was premiered on July 4, 2008 and began an international tour the following September.

Select Press Coverage


Le Pas d'Acier (2005)

Princeton University will staged Prokofiev’s infamous ‘Soviet’ ballet, Le Pas d’Acier, originally conceived in 1925 under direction Simon Morrison.

Simon Morrison - project director & musicologist
Lesley-Anne Sayers - artistic co-ordinator
Millicent Hodson & Kenneth Archer - choreography & staging

Select Press Coverage

  • “By way of Le Pas d’Acier Prokofiev and Iakulov’s Ursiniol comes to the stage,” Three Oranges 10 (November 2005): 36-39.
  • “Prokofiev’s Lost Ballet Found,” Dance Spirit 9:6 (July/August 2005): 38.
  • “The Hum of the Turbine, the Roar of the Crowd,” Dance Now 14:2 (Summer 2005): 72-75.
  • “Prokofiev’s ‘Le Pas d’Acier’,” danceviewtimes: writers on dancing 3:14 (11 April 2005): Online.
  • “Reaching for Original Intentions in a Prokofiev Ballet,” New York Times, Section E, 7 April 2005.
  • “Lost and Found: Le Pas d’Acier, a famous ballet, finally reaches the stage,” Daily Princetonian, 7 April 2005.
  • “At Last, Prokofiev’s ‘Lost Ballet’ Lives Again,” U.S. 1, Preview Section, 6 April 2005.
  • “Doing Right by Prokofiev,” New Jersey Times, Section BB, 3 April 2005.
  • “Ballet’s life given a soul, 78 years late,” Princeton Packet, 4 March 2005.
  • “‘Lost Ballet’ by Prokofiev to have World Premiere on Campus April 7-9,” Princeton Weekly Bulletin, 21 February 2005.
  • “A Professor Revives Prokofiev’s Robots,” New York Times, New Jersey Section, 22 February 2004.
  • “Fantomy Dyagilevskogo baleta,” Sankt-Peterburg Kommersant, 1 March 2002.



Rossen Milanov conducting the Princeton Symphony Orchestra      Credit: Laura Pedrick for The New York Times

Rossen Milanov conducting the Princeton Symphony Orchestra 
Credit: Laura Pedrick for The New York Times

Eugene Onegin (2012)

Combined student and professional performance of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Pushkin-based drama and Prokofiev’s 1936 incidental music—part of the international conference After the End of Music History at Princeton University.

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"It is hard to imagine a better way to introduce a work like this to the world in all its facets than with this double-barreled premiere."

- James R. Oestrich- The New York Times

Prokofiev Version of ‘Eugene Onegin’ in a Russian Weekend at Princeton,” New York Times, Section B, February 13, 2012. 


Krazy Kat and The Toy Box (2010)

Simon Morrison - project coordinator
Rebecca Lazier - choreographer (The Toy Box)
Tracy Bersley - director (Krazy Kat)
Tina Fehlandt - choreographer (Table’s Clear)
Anthony D.J. Branker - conductor
Michael Cadden - dramaturg
Darryl Waskow - production manager
Riccardo Hernandez - set designer
Aaron Copp - lighting designer
Anita Yavich - costume designer

This student staging featured John Alden Carpenter’s 1921 pantomime Krazy Kat and Claude Debussy’s 1913 La Boîte à Joujoux (The Toy Box). The latter included an unknown jazz overture preserved at the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art.


Boris Godunov (2007)

Simon Morrison
Princeton University
Glinka Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow

"An avant-garde Soviet production of Pushkin's play Boris Godunov, in an unrealized production by the director Vsevolod Meyerhold with incidental music by Sergei Prokofiev, gets its long-delayed world premiere tomorrow at Princeton University."

- Matthew Westphal, 2007 - PlaybillArts

Select Press Coverage

  • “Torna sulla scena il Boris censurato” il giornale della musica, October 2007.
  • “Pushkin/Prokofiev ‘Godunov’ Finally Realized,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 April 2007.
  • “Masterpiece that Fell Victim to Stalin Finds US Audience,” Belfast Telegraph, 15 April 2007.
  • “V Prinstone s uspekhom proshla prem’era rekonstruktsii Meyerkhol’dovskogo ‘Borisa Godunova’,” Trud, 14 April 2007.
  • “Prokofiev’s Take on Pushkin’s Czar, Revealed at Last,” New York Times, Section B, 13 April 2007.
  • “‘Boris Godunov’ Makes World Premiere,” Daily Princetonian, 13 April 2007.
  • “Photo Journal: Rediscovered 1936 Boris Godunov, with Music by Prokofiev, Gets World Premiere in Princeton,” Playbill Arts, 11 April 2007.
  • “An 1825 Play Finally Premieres,” U.S. 1, Preview Section, 11 April 2007.
  • “A Lost ‘Boris Godunov’ is Found and Staged,” New York Times, Section B, 11 April 2007.
  • “‘Godunov’ Rises from Stalin’s Terror,” International Herald Tribune, 11 April 2007.
  • “Creative Connections: ‘Godunov’ project driven by scholarly, artistic collaborations,” Princeton Weekly Bulletin, 5 March 2007.
  • “Princeton Honored to Stage Premiere of Russian Classic,” New Jersey Times, Section A, 16 February 2007.
  • “Architecture Students Helping Bring Classic Russian Play to Life,” Princeton Weekly Bulletin, 20 November 2006