Foregger, Nikolai Mikhailovich (1892–1939) By Misler, Nicoletta
A Soviet artist, critic, designer, choreographer, and theatre director, Nikolai Mikhailovich Foregger graduated from Law School at Kiev University, with a specialisation in medieval French theatre. During the early 1910s, he came under the influence of Alexandra Exter and members of the Futurist movement. In the 1920s, his ‘Studio Foregger’ (Mastfor) concentrated on working with the actor’s body, elaborating a system of ‘small forms’ or one-act theatre pieces, which borrowed new movement techniques from circus, street, and factory in an attempt to ‘desanctify’ traditional theatre. Foregger reclaimed historical forms from the popular theatre such as the commedia dell’arte and the itinerant theatre, combining them with contemporary ‘low’ forms such as cabaret, music-hall, and variety theatre and enhancing them with parodies of representatives of the new Soviet society – [Q2]NEPmen, loquacious intellectuals and even Party bureaucrats. The resulting performances were popular, sophisticated, and successful. Within the Soviet theatrical avant-garde, Foregger is also remembered for his ‘eccentric’ or ‘mechanical’ dances, which required a specific kind of physical training.