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Alexandra

A review of Massine

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Another recent upload to the Danceview archive:

A Glimpse of Massine

A Danish review from 1948: the design, music, drama, audience reaction, historical and political background of Massine’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Review by Henry Helissen

Translated by Bjarne Hecht

[Editor’s note: I discovered this review while researching a biography of the Danish dancer and balletmaster, Henning Kronstam, and found it so unusual that I decided to print it. It’s not only one of the most exciting reviews of a Massine work that I’ve read—Helissen’s writing has such a pulse and is so vivid, that he makes you think you saw the performance too—but the brief mentions of early performances of dancers known to American audiences, such as Erik Bruhn, Stanley Williams and Fredbjørn Bjørnsson in addition to Kronstam, are interesting. This review is quite different from anything we would read today. I was told that Helissen was not primarily a dance critic, nor even a writer about the arts, but a political writer. His knowledge of art and history is testament to the broad awareness of cultural and artistic matters once expected of the now-scorned “elites.” Helissen writes about design as though it is an integral part of the performance, not merely decoration, and he obviously sees the action through the music, not as choreography—both indications that the Bournonville aesthetic was still very much alive in 1948, nearly 70 years after that choreographer’s death.]

A Glimpse of Massine

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