The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Bouquet for AG

Second Lily

The surrender of oneself to a stronger power, the unification of one's movement to the movement of the whole, is what makes dance religious and lets it become a service to God. Whoever dances after the manner of the primitives or of the religious ecstatics, indeed whoever in our modern culture subjects himself to a predetermined rhythm in a parade or procession, understands whether clearly or vaguely, that his movement is a reflection of primeval movement; that the rhythm of his dance is like the distant sound of breakers which emanates from the beat of waves in the heart of the universe. Just as at the high point of the Christian liturgy the earthly voices unite with the chorus of angels and "with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven laud and magnify his glorious name," so man tries in the dance to follow the rhythm of the angels and the movement of the heavenly round. St. Basil spoke of a tripidium angelorum, a dance of angels, and of the blessedness of imitating this dance upon earth. There is dancing in heaven. According to an old prayer from Bremen, the eleven thousand virgins dance in the heavenly feast chamber before Mary. In Fra Angelico's Last Judgment, the virgins and martyrs dance the heavenly dance....

A nuns' hymn from about 1440 reads:

Let us all together go

On the road to heaven.

There, where joyous music rings,

We shall with angels dance along

To the sweet heavenly strings.

-Gerardus van der Leuw

Sacred and Profane Beauty: the Holy in Art pg. 68


At 6:09 AM, Blogger Sean Roberts said...

Is there going to be a series of posts on the lily and her enemies?

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Cut it out, Sean!

Just kidding. You still da man!

At 8:18 AM, Blogger AG said...

I love that. Thank you. In another Balanchine ballet, "Liebeslieder Walzer," Balanchine said that in the second part, the people were in heaven and their "souls danced."

FWIW, the photo is of a moment near the end of Balanchine's "Serenade" (1934) when the man (Nicholas Magallanes here?) reaches out to the Waltz Girl (Maria Tallchief in the photo, I think), with the Dark Angel (possibly Jillana) who has guided him to her standing behind him. The Dark Angel will move her wings, blind him (crossing her arms over his eyes), and lead him away from the woman on the ground. The Dark Angel is fate, guiding man to his destiny. His journey will continue, independently of his lover's. The Waltz Girl is left alone, either in solitude or in death, but then is joined by her sisters/angels and carried upwards, ascending towards heaven with her arms in an arc behind her so that her face and chest are illuminated by the heavenly light in the corner. And that's how "Serenade" ends.


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