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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Monday, November 11, 2019


Denby has some prose chops:

Handsome the NYC way of dancing certainly is. Limpid, easy, large, open, bounding; calm in temper and steady in pulse; virtuoso in precision, in stamina, in rapidity.  So honest, so fresh and modest the company looks in action. The company's stance, the bearing of the dancer's whole body in action is the most straightforward, the clearest I ever saw; it is the company's physical approach to the grand style--not to the noble carriage but to the grand one. Simple and clear the look of shoulder and hip, the head, the elbow, and the instep; unnervous the bodies deploy in the step, hold its shape in the air, return to balance with no strain, and redeploy without effort. None either of the becks and nods, the spurts and lags, the breathless stops and almost-didn't-make-it starts they cultivate in Paris. (On the analogy of painting the French go in for texture, the Americans for drawing.) As clear as the shape of the step in the NYC style is in its timing, its synchronization to the score at its start, at any powerful thrust it has, at its close. So the dancers dance unhurried, assured and ample. They achieve a continuity of line and a steadiness of impetus that is unique, and can brilliantly increase the power of it and the exhilarating speed to the point where it glitters like cut glass. The rhythmic power of the company is its real style, and its novelty of fashion. Some people complain such dancing is mechanical. It seems quite the opposite to me, like a voluntary, a purely human attentiveness.  (Dance Writings and Poetry, 223)

Note the abundance of adjectives. We are told to write with nouns and verbs, not adjectives and adverbs, but they provide color and texture here. There is some technical language. I don't know the difference between the grand style and "noble carriage." Nor would I be able to perceive with the sharpness that Denby does--almost preternaturally. The paragraph builds gradually, through enumeration of detail, to a stunning conclusion, a pithy statement of the major achievement of the New York City Ballet: it rhythmic dynamism. Then we are told, surprisingly, that this approach seems "mechanical' to other people! He's throwing a wrench into his own argument.  But then he has the perfect rejoinder. And isn't "attentiveness" the quality that Denby's own writing demonstrates?

I'd probably suggest some edits in a few sentences if I were an editor. I'm not saying this paragraph is perfect in all respects, but it is vigorous, attentive, varied in rhythm, as dynamic as the dance style is is describing.

The Lorca connection: Denby has a wonderful piece on La Argentinita, mentioning Lorca in passing.

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