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Performance

Late Style in Balanchine

- By Mark Franko

Individual items of a repertory mutate happily in the hands of the individuals who perform them. In Of Late Style, Edward Said described this process as akin to rhetorical inventio, which he discussed in relation to music, where it means “the finding of a theme and developing it contrapuntally so that all its possibilities are articulated, expressed, and elaborated.”[1] Said summed it up in this way: “Invention is therefore a form of creative repetition and reliving.”[2] With the classic repertory of New York City Ballet something similar can and does happen. Choreographic work must not only be recognized, it must also be rediscovered; it must fit within a known pattern but also be restored to life under the changed conditions of the present. In Said’s felicitous phrasing, all repetition must be relived...


Performance

And the Garden Is You

- By Michael Taussig

For Rosella Biscotti

Bryon Gysin was a painter who after a decade in Morocco running a night-club called the “Thousand and One Nights” discovered the “cut-up” while cutting something on top of a pile of magazines in his room in a cheap hotel on the left bank of Paris in 1959. The debris fell on the floor. He looked down, marveling at the mash-up on the floor.

I think you’ve got something there, Bryon,” drawled his companion William Burroughs, who made the cutup notorious with his Naked Lunch. “Cut-ups?” he asked. Words are like animals trapped in cages he wrote, or words to that effect, in response to fierce criticism in the Times Literary Supplement. “Cut the cages and let the words free.” For the Brit crit types it was too gay and too ungrammatical.

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Performance

Thoughts on Mats Ek and Metatheatre

- By Susan Jones

In May 2022, the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris presented an enticing triple bill of dance works by the eminent Swedish choreographer, Mats Ek. The programme opened with a revival of Ek’s one-act Carmen (1992), and the whole evening was performed by dancers of the Paris company, attracting packed audiences to the Spring season at the Palais Garnier. For this programme, Carmen was followed by performances of two of Ek’s more recent pieces, Another Place and Boléro, which Ek created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 2019, despite having announced his wish to retire from choreography four years earlier. Another Place explores the interactions of a couple through an enigmatic pas de deux, and Boléro is an abstract work inspired by...


Performance

Bartók’s Retreat

- By Edward Dusinberre

Excerpt from Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home. Forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, 233 pp., November 2022. With kind permission from the University of Chicago Press.

Through the gleam of brass the lettering was hard to read: “Bartók’s Retreat.” Out of habit I hung a “Do Not Disturb” cushion over the doorknob. I was staying in the same room at the Albemarle Inn located in Asheville, North Carolina, where Bartók lived between December 1943 and April 1944, sent there by his doctors to convalesce from a condition tentatively diagnosed as tuberculosis. The ailing composer recuperated at the salubrious inn, three miles away from a bustling downtown that during the Second World War accommodated a convalescent centre for Navy officers, a command base for the US Air Force and a processing centre for refugees. Bartók regained...


Performance

The Balanchine Enigma: Repertory, Variation, and the Plotless Ballet

- By Mark Franko

Slowly surfacing from the social and emotional depths of the COVID nightmare to perceive a tenuous normalcy around me, I experience New York City Ballet performances as a welcome afterlife—in which a repertory continuously redefines itself in relation to its own potentials and boundaries. Immediately after the pandemic, the bursts of individual energy of dancers drew attention to themselves, whereas now they are once again working through repertory rather than focusing attention on their individual exhilaration.[1]

The repertory itself takes center stage as a constantly varying puzzle. For example, Divertimiento no. 15 (1956), Vienna Waltzes (1977), and Mozartiana (1981)—all seen this season or last—suggest there is a festive, Central European plotless ballet...


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