I don't know how many forum members have read this essay, but it is quite interesting reading, and happens to include a portion(?) of a Balanchine interview that appeared in Nedelia, the weekly “cultural” supplement of the newspaper Izvestia. The interview exchange is very thought provoking in itself, but Kirstein's surrounding essay is worth wading through.
GRIGOROVICH: Since we are speaking of some kind of affirmation, I affirm the art of representation in its most spectacular brilliance of which theater is capable. I don’t know to what point, personally, I am successful, but I affirm ballet as a great theatrical art, with a complex and active dramatic content, expressed in dance by the accompaniment of painting helping to express this by scenery, with especially commissioned music, and of course with the pantomime of actor-dancers. It is possible to stage a ballet without scenery or costumes by dressing dancers merely in practice clothes, but why limit yourself? It is bad, naturally, if all these theatrical components do not help in expressing the idea which inspires you. But if they do, is it not splendid?
BALANCHINE: What do I affirm or reject? I reject nothing. Why should I? I am not affirming anything either.
“NEDELIA”: But you do express yourself?
BALANCHINE: I am not doing anything in particular. I simply dance. Why must everything be defined by words? When you place flowers on a table, are you affirming or denying or disproving anything? You like flowers because they are beautiful. Well, I like flowers, too. I plant them without considering them articulately. I don’t have a “logical” mind, just three-dimensional plasticity. I am no physicist, no mathematician, no botanist. I know nothing about anything. I just see and hear.
GRIGOROVICH: A flower is beautiful. But it is Nature, not Art. A flower affirms nothing, but the man who plants it affirms both the flower and its beauty. And how about Japanese flower arrangement? Is this not Art?
BALANCHINE: Of course I have a logic. But it is the logic of movement. Something is joined together, something else discarded. I am not trying to prove anything. That is, trying to prove something quite other than the fact of dancing. I only wish to prove the dance by dancing. I want to say: “If you should happen to like it, here they are: dancers dancing. They dance for the pleasure of it, because they wish to.” Don’t other people dance? All of Georgia [his ancestral home] dances! And these people dance for delight without hoping or wishing to prove anything.
GRIGOROVICH: But there is a difference between “just dancing” and ballet. Folk and social dancing are primarily for oneself. Ballet is dancing for an audience. Dancing just for fun is an emotion, whereas ballet is an art which transforms emotion into thought and unites them.
BALANCHINE: I believe in the dance as an independent category, as something that really exists in itself and by itself. However, this may be an unreal or inaccurate metaphysical category, something immaterial, perhaps indefinable.
“NEDELIA”: But you said yourself [at the start of the interview] that your ballets were not “abstractions,” that live people performed them….
BALANCHINE: Yes. They convey the sense of the dance to the spectator, but the dance also exists without spectators!
GRIGOROVICH: Pray, in what form?
BALANCHINE: In the form in which it comes to me; in the form in which I set it out.