Paul Parish

"Glass Pieces" & "Symphony in Three Movements"

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The inital NY Times review of Glass Pieces did reference Lucinda Childs work.

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THank you once again, QUiggin, for your insights and your scholarship -- esp for Siegel's coments.

Buckle DOES sound like a Monty Python parody -- "Pretty strong meat there from Longeur!" I've got a soft spot for him -- he was the first critic that really inflamed my imagination [longlong ago]. I protest there IS a value in that style, which plays out a fantasy [in belletristic flourishes] that IS a response to elements in the ballet which other modes of criticism can't mention -- e.g., the "opposite-limb-thrusting" school of "just the facts, Ma'am" style of criticism that prevailed in New York [and which Siegel's work epitomizes].

It's maybe useful to remember that Buckle was writing against the prissy grain of British critics and he delights in being outrageous -- and that's also in a context that values eccentricity.

Siegel and her movement were still bucking the Genteel Tradition in this country that Denby mocked as "another recitation of 'Thanatopsis.'"

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It's maybe useful to remember that Buckle was writing against the prissy grain of British critics and he delights in being outrageous -- and that's also in a context that values eccentricity.

Siegel and her movement were still bucking the Genteel Tradition in this country that Denby mocked as "another recitation of 'Thanatopsis.'"

Buckle is also part of a tradition that is looking for stories in the work -- these are critics that learned to see and write during a period when much of the new and radical work had stories and/or narrative themes attached to them. Many critics in Britain had a hard time with the lack of narrative in Balanchine's work, when they encountered it -- they kept looking for a story, and he kept saying they should just look at the dancing.

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THanks, Sandik-- That is so true. But as I'm sure you know, Buckle was NOT one of those who did not get Balanchine; he was one of B's champions.

And as it turns out there IS more story there than some led us to believe -- the ballerina in the adage of Symphony in C is the moon crossing the sky.

Question is, as Balanchine asked, "How much story you WANT?"

Obviously, a ballet based on a symphony rather than an opera is not giong to have a story other than the tonal/rhythmic drama of that symphony.

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And as it turns out there IS more story there than some led us to believe -- the ballerina in the adage of Symphony in C is the moon crossing the sky.

Question is, as Balanchine asked, "How much story you WANT?"

I think there's a difference between metaphors (& Homeric similies) and a programmatic narrative in which you check off the boxes as you go down the list. The beautiful image of moon crossing the sky that you cite and the hand mimicing the flashing light at Piccadily Circus from Apollo, and other shifting images seem to bring you closer to the work, whereas the overall Program – war or whatever – migtht tend to keep you away from the work, less vulnerable to its ambiguities.

And thanks for the context regarding Marcia Siegel ... Yes, Richard Buckle was a good guy in the British criticism scene but the review does have the "limitations" of the Orientalist approach, and the sex trade images are a bit too blithely laid out there – this afterall was the period overshadowed by the Korean and Vietnam wars. (Arlene Croce, too, is a bit off-base when she refers to the woman in the pas in Symphony/Three as an "interverted Oriental," in comparison to her role as an "extroverted American" in the first movement.)

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Of course you're right, QUiggin -- If a ballet's music is written to embody a libretto [as nearly ALL of Diaghilev's were], then there's a story in the music it would be foolish not to follow... and Balanchine usually did follow the story when there was one -- best of all in 'Nutcracker.'

There are ballets of atmosphere, like "Les Sylphides," which have characteristic events that develope the mood and unfold unexpected qualities of a "world" where the ordinary mode is wonderful from the get-go, but there is no agon, no crisis, no story and I think Symphony in 3 is rather in this mode, though it's not the same mood.....

Early Soviet choreographers like Goleizovsky developed in this abstract way and made symphonic ballets [rather as composers had made symphonies with dance and aria materials but no story, organizing hte motifs using purely tonal logic. Balanchine saw this in Russia before escaping to DIaghilev. Even APollo, which does have a libretto, has a constructivist look to its highly stylized way of telling the story.

It was not anachronistic for people in 1972 to see the Vietnam war reflected in the ballet; 1972 WAS close to the peak of the Vietnam War, if I remember right. I was in my early 20s at the time, and as I recall it, the harshness with which everyone disagreed about what to DO about Vietnam dominated almost everything.

I don't see any Orientalism in the ballet -- though most commentators at the time do seem to have done so.

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