It is not possible to be unhappy while listening to Count Basie’s Jive at Five. Or Django Reinhardt’s Swing ’42. Or Fats Waller’s Baby Brown. That’s nine minutes’ worth of joy right there. What are you waiting for?
Archives for February 3, 2004
Except about George Balanchine, of course. I just finished another chapter of my book, which for the moment (and subject to my publisher’s approval) is called All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine. You heard it here first! Is that a good title, or what? As always, let me know your thoughts.
Otherwise, I’m in an acutely blogged state, so I don’t plan to post anything more until Wednesday. OGIC is taking care of business more than adequately in my stead. Isn’t it nice to have her back?
“We were, of course, of the left. We were socialist. We stood for the dignity of the working man. We stood for the dignity of distress. We stood for the dignity of our island, the dignity of our indignity. Borrowed phrases! Left-wing, right-wing: did it matter? Did we believe in the abolition of private property? Was it relevant to the violation which was our subject? We spoke as honest men. But we used borrowed phrases which were part of the escape from thought, from that reality we wanted people to see but could ourselves now scarcely face. We enthroned indignity and distress. We went no further.
“I am not sure that the wild men of our party did not speak more honestly than we did. They promised to abolish poverty in twelve months. They promised to abolish bicycle licences. They promised to discipline the police. They promised intermarriage. They promised farmers higher prices for sugar and copra and cocoa. They promised to renegotiate the bauxite royalties and to nationalize every foreign-owned estate. They promised to kick the whites into the sea and send the Asiatics back to Asia. They promised; they promised; and they generated the frenzy of the street-corner preacher who thrills his hearers with a vision of the unattainable rich world going up in a ball of fire. We disapproved, of course. But what could we do?”
V.S. Naipaul, The Mimic Men
Another reader writes:
Oh fine. Just introduce me to even more interests – how dare you!
Translation: I bought a ticket to Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Balanchine centenary production
on February 12th.
The only ballet I’ve enjoyed before (other than The Nutcracker when I was
12) was the PNB’s production of Silver Lining – ballet set to the music of
Jerome Kern, coreographed by our boy Kent Stowell. It got rave reviews
here in Seattle, but was widely panned elsewhere.
But I am going with an open mind, so we’ll see.
Anything I should know/read beforehand?
If it were November, I’d tell you to buy my Balanchine book, but it isn’t written yet, much less published. On the other hand, I see on the Web that you’ll be watching Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Agon, and Divertimento No. 15, all of them major Balanchine ballets that Pacific Northwest dances beautifully, and so I’m tempted to suggest that you not read anything. Just go, look, and be open to surprise.
I’ll add only this caveat: all three of the ballets on your program are “plotless,” meaning they don’t tell a story. But that doesn’t mean they’re abstract–not even Agon, which is set to a very knotty score by Stravinsky. I’ll cheat and give you a little taste from my unfinished book:
Balanchine was the first ballet choreographer to forge a distinctively contemporary movement vocabulary, and among the first to find a visual counterpart to the acerbities and angularities of such composers as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Webern, and Ives. Yet he was right to shun the reductive label of abstractionist, for his dances, however aggressively modern-looking they may be, are human dramas, peopled by recognizable creatures of flesh and blood who live and die–and love. “Put a man and a girl on the stage and there is already a story,” he said. “A man and two girls, there’s already a plot.”
Keep that in mind and you won’t go far wrong. Have fun–and please write back to tell me how you liked it!
From The Scotsman:
“The Producers,” Mel Brooks’s musical which sends up the Nazi regime and features the song “Springtime For Hitler,” could be opening in a surprise new venue – Berlin. A theatre company has expressed a keen interest in staging the hit Broadway show in Germany, and theatregoers are being flown from the capital to New York next month to see if they find the musical entertaining or offensive.
If they do not walk out in disgust – or manage a laugh at a chorus line of goose-stepping Nazi stormtroopers – it will get the go-ahead to open in Berlin….
Read the whole thing here.
Here’s the first paragraph of a press release I received today from Adelson Galleries, a highly distinguished Upper East Side art gallery:
To coincide with the premiere of the new ABC-TV dramatic series Kingdom Hospital on March 3, executive produced by the celebrated master of horror and National Book Award recipient Stephen King, Adelson Galleries, Inc. in New York City will exhibit a small selection of drawings and mixed-media paintings by renowned artist Jamie Wyeth created especially for the series. Jamie Wyeth: Works from Kingdom Hospital will be on view in the gallery’s salon from March 4 through April 2, 2004. Wyeth’s work is pivotal to one of the storylines and introduces the audience to a central character in a surprising way.
We got a lot of traffic yesterday, most of it drawn by my notes on blogging
and OGIC’s reflections on New York provincialism. All this without any scabrous hints from other bloggers! Such are the rewards of the pure of heart.
A lot of bloggers who linked to my notes on blogging took issue with Note No. 2: “I know very few people over fifty, and scarcely any over sixty, who
For those who’ve been asking: I’ve written an essay about the experience of buying and living with art. It’s in the current issue of Commentary, and you can read it on line by going to the “Teachout in Commentary” module of the right-hand column and clicking on the appropriate links.