1st Edition

Dancing Shakespeare Ballet Adaptations of William Shakespeare’s Works from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

By Iris Julia Bührle Copyright 2025
    332 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This monograph is the first history of ballets based on William Shakespeare’s works from the birth of ballet as an independent art form in the eighteenth century to the present. It focuses on two main questions: “How can Shakespeare be danced?”, and “How can dance shed new light on Shakespeare?”

    One purpose of the book is to demonstrate that the study of wordless performances allows us to gain a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s texts. It argues that ballets based on Shakespeare’s works direct the audience’s attention to the “bare bones” of the plays: their situations, their characters, and the evolution of both. Moreover, they reveal and develop the “choreographies” that are written into the texts and highlight the importance of movements and gestures as signifiers in Shakespeare’s plays.

    This book will provide students and scholars of literature, dance, and music with an interest in Shakespeare adaptations and ballet with an overview of the history of the subject, and with practical case studies that will give them ideas and tools for their own work.

    Beyond academic audiences, the book’s argument and subject will be of interest to an international readership of lovers of Shakespeare, ballet, and the arts.


    Chapter 1: Hamlet

    Chapter 2: Othello

    Chapter 3: Romeo and Juliet

    Chapter 4: Other tragedies

    Chapter 5: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    Chapter 6: Other comedies

    Chapter 7: Late plays

    Chapter 8: History plays, poetry, multiple sources


    Iris Julia Bührle is a Lecturer at Stanford University Bing Overseas Program in Paris.