City of Light: Paris 1900-1950. International Conference, Institut francais de Royaume-Uni

  • Russell Millard (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


The character of Lyceion in Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloé (1912) has been described by Vladimir Jankélévitch as “the Salome of Greece”; the evocation of the Dance of the Seven Veils in her attempt to seduce Daphnis fed into a craze for Salome-like dancers in fin-de-siècle Paris, making Lyceion a character who resonates beyond Ravel’s ballet. In adapting Longus’s third-century novel, Ravel and his collaborators made a number of modifications to the source material, leading to discrepancies between Lyceion and her counterpart in the novel, Lycaenion, changing the character from catalysing agent to narrative obstacle.
This paper investigates the manner in which these changes figure Lyceion as an analogue to the contemporary femme nouvelle, a “masculinised” woman who threatens masculinity with redundancy (McMillan 2000). Lyceion’s scene is examined as an attempt to subvert sexual norms, during which the act of viewing is gendered as feminine and desiring. This is placed in the context of the shift in emphasis in the Ballets Russes towards male dancers, and contemporary fears that “a society in which women were masculinised and men effeminate – would lead to impotence, sterility and race suicide” (Foley 2004). The implications of the scene for the larger narrative are also explored.
Period27 May 201529 May 2015
Event typeOther


  • Gender
  • Narrative
  • Music analysis
  • Ravel
  • Ballets Russes
  • Third Republic France
  • Fin-de-siecle
  • Salome
  • Dance
  • feminism