Thursday, January 9, 2003

Thursday January 9, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:48 PM

Balanchine's Birthday

Today seems an appropriate day to celebrate Apollo and the nine Muses.

From a website on Balanchine's and Stravinsky's ballet, "Apollon Musagete":

In his Poetics of Music (1942) Stravinsky says: "Summing up: What is important for the lucid ordering of the work– for its crystallization– is that all the Dionysian elements which set the imagination of the artist in motion and make the life-sap rise must be properly subjugated before they intoxicate us, and must finally be made to submit to the law: Apollo demands it."  Stravinsky conceived Apollo as a ballet blanc– a "white ballet" with classical choreography and monochromatic attire. Envisioning the work in his mind's eye, he found that "the absence of many-colored hues and of all superfluities produced a wonderful freshness." Upon first hearing Apollo, Diaghilev found it "music somehow not of this world, but from somewhere else above." The ballet closes with an Apotheosis in which Apollo leads the Muses towards Parnassus. Here, the gravely beautiful music with which the work began is truly recapitulated "on high"– ceaselessly recycled, frozen in time.

— Joseph Horowitz



Another website invoking Apollo:

The icon that I use… is the nine-fold square…. The nine-fold square has centre, periphery, axes and diagonals.  But all are present only in their bare essentials.  It is also a sequence of eight triads.  Four pass through the centre and four do not.  This is the garden of Apollo, the field of Reason…. 

In accordance with these remarks, here is the underlying structure for a ballet blanc:

A version of 'grid3x3.gif.'

This structure may seem too simple to support movements of interest, but consider the following (click to enlarge):

As Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, paraphrasing Horace, remarks in his Whitsun, 1939, preface to the new edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse, "tamen usque recurret Apollo."

The alert reader will note that in the above diagrams, only eight of the positions move.

Which muse remains at the center?

Consider the remark of T. S. Eliot, "At the still point, there the dance is," and the fact that on the day Eliot turned 60, Olivia Newton-John was born.  How, indeed, in the words of another "sixty-year-old smiling public man," can we know the dancer from the dance?


  1. More synchronicity from the Minority:

    Human experience is usually paradoxical,
    that means incongruous with the phrases
    of current talk or even current philosophy.
    —George Eliot

    Paradox?  Then it must be true.  A different Eliot. 


    I read your site daily, and more often than not, I am left wondering at the corridors and hallways in your mind.  The connections you create from what appears to be sheer coincidence are incredible.
    When I have an extra moment or two, I also research your myriad of links.
    I’m always pleased with those travels too.  Thank you.

    Comment by oOMisfitOo — Friday, January 10, 2003 @ 2:52 AM

  2. “…intellectualistic elitism…esoteric and compelling…nothing here for the novice, ‘rock on’?!”

    ~ Alan Dietrich
    Xanga Gazette

    Comment by Alan_Dietrich — Friday, January 10, 2003 @ 5:56 AM

  3. Indeed.  Rock on!
    You are the inspiration for my latest post.  I began thinking about why we blog, and where we blog. 

    The sharing of information on a personal level, the spread of individual resources and belief.  Sometimes we connect, sometimes we don’t (that’s a metaphorical ‘we’).

    The trick is finding those we connect with.  There doesn’t always have to be a ‘why’.

    Comment by oOMisfitOo — Friday, January 10, 2003 @ 3:16 PM

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