Friday, February 26, 2010


One week ago, I had yet another pleasurable experience at the San Francisco ballet. Program 3 of the company's 2010 Season featured Balanchine Masterworks, with three luminous ballets: Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Theme and Variations. Watching dancers move gracefully across the stage can be so transcendent and hypnotic, I often forget that their performance has taken practice after practice after practice to reach the flawless whole it has become. It's as if this one leap of the legs or that one sweep of the arms were spontaneous acts driven by a nameless passion or a fleeting emotion, void of rehearsal. It's the bliss of being in the audience, I suppose. It's fun to fantasize about being a ballerina, sending lightness and freedom from limb to limb.

Perhaps the only way to interpret 'Masterworks' is through one's own personal relationship to the movements. What does it mean to open oneself up to acceptance as opposed to curling inward from fear? Do I freeze up, go with the flow or speedily escape from the scene? Does the peripheral view give pleasure or evoke repulsion? I'm reminded, of course, of a course I took in college, called 'The English Literary Renaissance'. At the time, I did not subscribe to my professor's mode of discussion, as he always lectured with that leading question: "But how did the poem make you feel?" Wrapped up in pending essays and tests, I didn't care how Spenser's Faerie Queen made me feel, I wanted to know what it meant. Now, I see he was on to something.

I was on to something, too, but now I forget. Oh, yes, Balanchine. It's all in the emotions. The emotions of the motions, to put it ever so plainly. The shadow of one beautiful form draped weightless upon the other. So pretty. So very, very pretty.