Swan Lake, art, and pondering

The last time I saw a ballet was in gradeschool when our class went to see The Nutcracker, and I remember being really impressed and excited about the whole rat battle, but after that it got a little slow. Sure the realm of the Sugarplum fairy was nice, but where were the rats? Where was the action??

That being my only experience, I was a bit hesitant to go see Swan Lake tonight, but I needed the convo credit and figured what the heck. Watching dancers exhausts me. The way that they’ve totally harnassed and utilized the capabilities of the human bodies fascinates me to the point of being sick to my stomach and leaves me wallowing in dizzying admiration

It reminds me of a play I saw called Resident Alien by Tim Fountain. It’s a great one-man play about Quentin Crisp, and is essentially a string of his little tidbits and insights on life that are all woven together. Because of this, it’s difficult to pluck a quote out of context, but I’ll do my best. In an explanation about ridding oneself of superfluous things and actions, the main character goes on to say…

“It’s alright if you are learning to sing or dance because these are activities the results of which you take out into the world and wear like a crown. People who have learned to sing will always have richer, rounder voices. People who’ve learned to dance will always have bigger, bolder movements, but as for pottery and basket weaving, what good are they? The moment the doors of the evening institute clang shut behind you you are back where you started. On the way home you might get into an argument with a stranger at a bus stop. It’s no good saying I can’t express myself you’ll have to come and see my baskets.”

When I first heard this in the play it really struck a chord with me, especially the part about dancers and singers being able to wear their talents like a crown, because they are always present within the person. It got me thinking about art, and sure enough, the character of Quentin soon brings up the visual arts…

“It would be difficult to express the dilemma that lies before the visual artist. If I showed you a huge great piece of concrete with a hole in it everybody would say it’s a Henry Moore, but if I could show you Henry Moore himself nobody would know who he was. So all that clipping, all that chipping, all that chiselling, it’s been in vain.”

I’d like to say I disagree strongly with the character on this point, being a visual artist myself. However, it’s not so simple, as the words make sense. Whenever I read it, it spins me off into deep ponderings about a talent’s ability to portray who a person is and this and that. Far too incoherent ramblings to journal about, but I wonder if it strikes chords with anyone else, too?

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