Song and Dance Ensembles in Central European Militaries: The Spread, Transformation and Retreat of a Soviet Model
Using the examples of Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Poland, this article explores the professional song and dance ensembles of the socialist militaries as a transnational phenomenon that spread in these countries after World War II. The institution of the song and dance ensemble originated in the Soviet Union, and the Central European states made wide use of it, adapting the Soviet model to the national conditions. Within the specific context of the socialist military these ensembles had to strike a balance between artistic needs, political requirements and military utilitarianism. No matter how uncomfortable such a position was, the ensembles were supported as hallmarks of the socialist militaries and as projections of their identities, which in turn resulted in their lack of legitimacy when the state socialist regimes collapsed in 1989.