Ballet grotesque The Valet’s Broom / Le balai du valet by Miloje Milojevic (1884–1946) was for the first time performed at the Ball 1002 Night, having been held on the premises of the Hotel Kasina on 16th February 1923. The whole spectacle was the first in the line of thematic balls, organized on the occasion of raising funds for building the Art Pavilion Cvijeta Zuzoric and besides Milojevic’s ballet it also included the exhibition, costume ball and variety program. Numerous artists, writers, musicians, dancers and actors of different generations and esthetic opinions took part in that multi-artistic project, all gathered in a mutual rebellion against artistic canons and conventional division into “classical” and “popular” values of culture and life. Ball “1002 Night” Poster from 1923.

Their subversion was close to the activities of Parisian avant-garde artists, who were surprising the world with their experiments. That was testified by different segments of Belgrade ball, from the interior project “a la mode cubisme, art no?negre et cinéma“ to the ballet grotesque, which besides Milojevic, was created by Marko Ristic, as the text writer, Aleksandar Deroko, the scenography author and Klavdija Isacenko and Jelena Poljakova, as choreographers.

According to Ristic’s text the work of art is a “psychological ballet of dream and reality” about happenings in the “poet’s mind” out of which flows the range of personalities and situations, directed towards the identity search in the sphere of poetic deformation of reality. Presented in analogy with a film framing technique, the content and formal structure of the text negate a dynamic continuity of thought process have largely induced Milojevic to experiment in ways, atypical for his work. In creative closeness with the works of French “The Six” and especially with Erik Satie’s ballet Parade, the composer enters into combining of audio, visual and verbal medium, and he lifts the collage technique procedures to the level of esthetic and forming principle of the work. He easily makes distance towards citation and simulation of the music of romanticism, impressionism and commercialized forms of popular culture of that period- waltz, foxtrot and sevdah songs. Either approaching them intentionally, as to finished objects in their inadequate sound surrounding, or parodying them with his music interventions and textual remarks, he negates conventions and accomplishes new sound combinations, but with clear non-musical implications ranging from joke and irony to grotesque and persiflage. Milojevic gives himself up to critical heart-searching as well, making distance from aesthetics and creative sense of most of his own works, showing another, but displaced and excessive face of his stylistically heterogeneous opus. Supplementing the very Ristic’s text with new dimensions of identity searching, Milojevic rounds up an experiment that, as a part of critical rebellion of Belgrade ball spectacle, has remained to give evidence about early avant-garde achievements of Serbian art, creatively current in international proportions. 

M.Sc. Biljana Milanovic, musicologist 

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