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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

'A Note' Adrian Stokes

Being late one afternoon last summer for Covent Garden, I found Balanchine's ballet to Mozart's Symphony Concertante in E flat intervening upon hurry from the street. The slow movement was nearly ended. Still in a state of precipitancy I experienced the sensation of the full cool ritual of the classical dance, of the dancer's absorption by their architecture. The solo viola in the orchestra was speaking to the violin. These Mozartian voices, these wordless communications of patterned sound were in that instant the more poignant beneath the unmatched muscular control of the voiceless dancers. It was as if one could perceive at the back of perfection in art, the apprehension of the human form, of the very Muses who epitomize the artist's capacity for love. Would that poor Mozart could have possessed this viola girl who with the continuity of impersonal grace encounters the power of his invention. A man enters, attends both dancers of the solo instruments and upon the company at large. . . .

Owing to the perfection of technique and of taste, the classical dance may at times, though they be rare, achieve for the human form a momentary parity with the greatest expressions of the spirit.

Such is, or should be, the spur to the choreographer of abstract ballets; that is the reason, the deeper reason, why so many choreographers have chosen lately to 'use' concert music for ballet. None but Fokine, Massine and Balanchine have achieved the modicum of ...


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