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

Friday, June 22, 2007

De Muliere

...Considering some of his overtly romantic ballets, one might tempted to reverse Gide and opine that a romantic work is beautiful by virtue of it subjegated classicism. Take as instance Liebeslieder Walzer, a romatic ballet that is one of Balanchine's loveliest and most perfect acheivements. In that ballet, the "plot" is a line of action of increasing liberation from the mundane. In the first act the four couples in the ballroom take ever more freedom with the conventions of the ballroom waltz, while at the same time offering us fleeting glimpses of the heightened emotions they experience: exhilartion, adoration, jealousies, doubts, longings, fears of mortality - who knows exactly what those poignant gestures and glances signify? Yet how affecting they are. These dancers, in their elegant garb, are real people to us, and as the curtain comes down for the pause between acts, it seems that Balanchine has taken them as far as they can go in their liberation.

But when the curtain comes up, we see that he can take them further. For now they are no longer human beings dancing in a ballroom, but dancers of a special sort - classical ballet dancers. The women no longer wear ballroom gowns and pumps but are dressed in long, semi-transparent tulle tutus and toe shoes. Now the women soar. The whole mood is transformed, going far beyond even the most heightened reality. During the making of this ballet, Balanchine, as was his habit, said little about his intent. Shortly after the first performance, I talked with him about it and commented on what seemed to me to be happening in this work. In reply, he said succinctly how he saw it. "In the first act, it's the real people that are dancing. In the second act, it's their souls."

In short, for Balanchine, the way to achieve the quintessence of romanticism was through the classical ballet vocabulary. What drama he makes of this paradox! And how revealing this ballet is of Balanchine's philosophy and values. How does an artist show a human being's soul? Well, for a start, if he is George Balanchine, he puts her in toe shoes. And it is also revealing that for the men no equivalent transformation is possible. Their clothes stay the same. Balanchine didn't really need to utter his famous statement "Ballet is woman," for nearly all of his ballets said it, just as they also said that the only way a man can achieve or approach the liberation of his soul is by the homage and devotion he shows woman.

-Bernard Taper, Balanchine: A Biography, pgs. 252-253 (emphasis mine)


I have not read so much truth in so few paragraphs in so long. Anything else I could say would be a total waste of time. Thanks be to God for the woman!


At 8:52 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

image credit

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once heard a highly decorated psychiatrist say, only in partial jest, that men and women are so different that, but for the natural appetite for sexual relations, the sexes might prey on each other for food.

But perhaps that is preceisely why God created anthropos as male and female. So that experience of true humanity requires detente, ney sacrificing love, to the "wholly other," the mystery of the other sex (or contradictory gender, as a freind of my likes to joke). Thus in becoming human, that is being man and women joined in one flesh eternally in matrimony (Eastern Christians don't buy the dissolution of nuptials by death), we become more fully ourselves. And, by loving that which is other than us, we have move step closer to the possibility of loving God, the "wholly other," as he already perfectly loves us.

So yes, I like the profound depths of the emphasized quote.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

You would definitely sympathize with the quote if you were in MY shoes.

O, what music.....


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