Shakespeare and Dance. Literature Through Dance: Rediscovering Shakespeare through balletic adaptations of his plays

Dance within Shakespeare studies has for a long time been considered as complementary to the theatrical performance; however, recent discoveries in dance studies have shown that these dancing elements have not existed as subordinate to plays, but rather supplanted them, acknowledging their substitutive rather than additive narrative function. In the field of adaptation studies, theories have arisen stating that the result of the adaptation may have an influence on the audience’s understanding and perception of the source medium. Besides, the area of dance adaptations has been largely neglected and is in need of deeper academic treatment, as well as the interdisciplinary area between literature and dance. 

Through both a contextual and intermedial approach of dance performance analysis, combined with the literary analysis of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, the analysis of the adapting process combined with translation practices, this dissertation will draw a comparative study and examine to what extent classical ballet adaptations of Shakespeare’s work of selected Swiss, British, American and Latin-American choreographers alongside with their transcreative process reflect an analytical and critical process of the Shakespearean canon, as well as an act of re-interpretation. In addition, it will also examine the revision of the Shakespearean canon, its role and consequences. 

In doing so, the Shakespearean canon will be critically investigated through dance, posing the question of its revision, its role and agency within four specific cultures. It will also examine the effect that the danced performance has on the theatrical and cultural repertoire, transforming dance and the adaptation process into a literary critical tool, thus presenting dance in its historiographical context as an opportunity to interpret Shakespeare’s plays or any literary text adapted into a ballet, offering new research methods and providing alternative perspectives on existing material in the fields of literary criticism, Shakespeare studies, dance studies and adaptation studies.