Buddy

The Dancing Painting

43 posts in this topic

In regard to the visual art's influence on George Balanchine I found this.


"One of the things for which he was always grateful to Diaghilev was that the latter took some pains to develop Balanchine's knowledge and appreciation of painting…..For Diaghilev himself, paintings were not merely a pleasure but a passion, a necessity. When he stood before a picture, he seemed to be not just looking at it but imbibing it.


"He [balanchine] grew especially fond of Perugino."


(page 77, "Balanchine: A Biography" by Bernard Taper)




Here's the Perugino ceiling that the story on page 78 refers to.




Here's another Perugino in the Sistine Chapel.







[correction made to the Perugino ceiling paintings]



[Added]


This is considered one of Perugino's finer works.


("In the painting, the figures' sweet angelic air is as characteristic of Perugino's idealised world as the graceful landscape with its feathery trees.")



(clicking on the images will sometimes produce a larger image)

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Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is classically and architecturally focused on Venus, but it's also musical. It feels like ballet to me. Focus seems to be directed to her eyes, perhaps to remain, which seems very classical, but her hair flowing off to our right seems to be a possible release from this. It keeps the eye moving or dancing.

Balanchine took the young Suzanne Farrell to see this painting, and told her she reminded him of Venus.

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Thank you very much, dirac, for this information. Last year I spent several hours with this painting and the same with Michelangelo's "David" and 'friends'. I hope to do the same again in about a month.

Michelangelo is another very interesting possibility for this discussion. I think that he might not have effected George Balanchine as much, because he was so male oriented. Still he's a fascinating artist if you want to consider motion/emotion, even dance.

I wonder what other artists were particularly interesting to George Balanchine and why he apparently felt that paintings were so important along with Sergei Diaghilev. I'd like to explore more why Perugino seemed to be his early favorite.

Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is perhaps my favorite female work of art. Michelangelo's "David" being the male counterpart. Both, as guidebooks are quick to point, reside in Florence, Italy and are the pride of the city. I wonder what he saw in "The Birth of Venus" that resembled Suzanne Farrell. Maybe the resemblance was the Suzanne Farrell 'Experience' as well a portrait similarity. I'd like to think so.

When you told me, dirac, that my choice of titles for this topic, "The Dancing Painting", was a good one, I think it showed that you may understand this title better than I do. Thanks so much for your continued interest. "

Lovely aside:

Several days after seeing "The Birth of Venus" I took a bus into the Tuscany countryside near Florence. Sitting next to me was a teenage blond student on her way back to her village. She was a beauty. I made a joke to the folks sitting next to me after she got off the bus, that she had told me that she was "Botticelli's Venus." She was lovely to talk to as well as beautiful. She made the six weeks that I spent trying to learn some Italian for a four day visit totally worthwhile. Not only that, but she told me that she spent each summer in India. (In fascinating retrospect, your 'ballet may have originated in India' connection, Katharine Kantner?) Not your typical girl from the Italian countryside. I wont forget her.

And:

A partial answer to my question of why George Balanchine and Sergei Diaghilev considered painting so important,

related to dance. From the quote in the first paragraph of this topic:

* "Diaghilev understood that the principles of composing bodies and space in art were closely allied to those of dance." *

I'm very interested at the moment in works of art that have a dance Feeling to them, that can be seen as actually dancing, i.e. "The Birth of Venus" (also those of Michelangelo and more abstractly , Picasso or Chinese landscape scrolls). This may not speak to how a particular work has directly influenced dance, but if famous dance 'creators' such as George Balanchine and Sergei Diaghilev studied them so carefully, maybe there is even more than "composing bodies and space," such as implied motion, expression and events in life, although these may be implied in the quote. "Composing" can imply motion and how a static work of art can accomplish this and relate it to those focussing on dance can be very interesting.

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Thanks to you, too, Buddy. I think Balanchine's view of painting and other visual arts diverged from Diaghilev's in important respects. There’s a story that Lincoln Kirstein once invited Balanchine to visit a museum during Balanchine's early days on American shores. “No, thanks,” was the reply. “I’ve been to a museum.” I wouldn't take that story too literally even if true - we know that Balanchine was in and out of museums - but Balanchine made relatively little use of those arts in his own art.

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Thanks to you, too, Buddy. I think Balanchine's view of painting and other visual arts diverged from Diaghilev's in important respects. There’s a story that Lincoln Kirstein once invited Balanchine to visit a museum during Balanchine's early days on American shores. “No, thanks,” was the reply. “I’ve been to a museum.” I wouldn't take that story too literally even if true - we know that Balanchine was in and out of museums - but Balanchine made relatively little use of those arts in his own art.

Thanks, dirac.
I would again offer these two quotes from above.
"One of the things for which he was always grateful to Diaghilev was that the latter took some pains to develop Balanchine's knowledge and appreciation of painting…..
(page 77, "Balanchine: A Biography" by Bernard Taper)
This is one that Edward Villella tells a lot about George Balanchine.
"One time in particular, when I was having trouble with the pas de deux [Prodigal Son?], he said, “no, not right, not right, Byzantine icons, dear.” So I went back and looked at some Byzantine icons and right there I understood the whole port de bras."
Another thing that makes the visual arts interesting to those in dance might be obvious. No words are used, either spoken or ,in most cases, written.
And back to Michelangelo for a moment. This is a work that I would like to offer just for viewing for now. Any thoughts or feelings anyone ?
The Rondanini Pieta by Michelangelo
As a comparison
The David by Michelangelo
[one of the posted images was changed]

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Here is one brief description of Michelangelo's Rondanini Pietà just mentioned.


"When Michelangelo began this final pietà in 1556, he chose to work from a piece he had begun but abandoned nearly ten years earlier. In the early stages of the Rondanini Pietà, Mary was holding up the slender Christ with her outstretched arms as if offering his spirit, but with time and through nearly three different stages, Christ sank down, now emerging from Mary's breast and exaggerated in his slender form. Finally, Michelangelo drew the heads of the two figures closer and closer together, dissolving the barrier between mother and son."




This is a work that I've chosen because of its immediately visible sensitivity compared to his many immensely powerful figures with their subtle gentleness. This work is fascinating in that it's creation marked a voyage, almost a lifetime in a little more than ten years. This can be strongly felt in the statue. A static work of art actually moves through time and realities.


These two figures are so expressively powerful in their abstraction, so otherworldly in their flow and so soulfully human in their realism, that I would think that they could have a wonderful influence of someone in dance.



And back to George Balanchine.


He seemed to be fascinated by the great natural beauty of animals. He told Suzanne Farrell that she should buy a cat and watch it carefully. She did.


This could be a largely different thing than the study of art. Dirac, if you read this, do you think that this was an important influence in George Balanchine's works ?

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Balanchine made several comparisons between dancers and animals (cats, racehorses), but fundamentally, his interest was in ballet itself, and what he and his dancers could do with it.

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Both sandik and dirac have mentioned the role played by tableau vivant in the development of dance..This thread has made me think of the musical "Sunday in the Park With George," based on the Seurat painting. I can imagine a ballet based on a similar premise -- or, if that is too difficult to convey without words, a ballet that begins with a tableau vivant of a famous painting, after which the figures move to music, relate to each other (or not), and -- just in time for the opening bell -- return to their frozen positions.

The painting:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Georges_Seurat_-_Un_dimanche_apr%C3%A8s-midi_%C3%A0_l%27%C3%8Ele_de_la_Grande_Jatte.jpg

As recreated by the cast of the U.S. version of "The Office":

http://www.vulture.com/2011/05/office_sunday_afternoon.html

I was thinking about other paintings which might allow themselves to being awakened, or unfrozen, by dance. Buddy mentioned the Botticelli Venus. My own feeling is that the sense of "dance" in this painting is provided largely by the wind's effect on draperies and hair. Venus herself provides the stillness at the center of all that agitation.

How about Caravaggio, whose human (and animal) figures seem to be straining to escape their frozen fate. A brief Google turned up the following, a filmed performance, based on Caravaggio's "philosophies", and starring Beatrice Knop, Paolina Semionova, and Vladimir Malakhov.

“Moretti and Monteverdi’s Caravaggio,” a ballet performance recorded at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m., at Criterion Cinemas at the corner of Temple and George streets in New Haven. The 93-minute show, conducted by Paul Connelly and starring Beatrice Knop, Polina Semionova and Vladimir Malakhov, was choreographed to reflect the artistic philosophies of the legendary Italian painter. (A Caravaggio exhibit is coming to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford this spring.) Details: www.bowtiecinemas.com.

http://caravaggio400.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/moretti-and-monteverdis-caravaggio-in-new-haven/

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Hi, bart. It's always great to have your goodwill, sense of moderation and intelligence nearby. Really !

Bart's possible reply -- " Ah, gosh ! " happy.png

I'd like to reply to some of the things that you've written at another time. The Caravaggio ballet sounds very interesting, especially the casting, Paolina Semionova, and Vladimir Malakhov (Beatrice Knop I'm not familiar with).

Something that I'm still searching for is a famous ballet that relates directly to a work of art in its essence. I don't know the works of George Balanchine nearly as well as others here, but he might be a likely candidate. Dirac, forgive me.

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There are certainly references to visual art in Balanchine's work, but I can't think of many that "relate directly to a work of art in its essence."

Have we discussed "The Rake's Progress" (deValois/Hogarth) yet?

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No, sandik, we haven't. Would you like to tell us some more ?



I love to think Rembrandt when I think about Russia -- so beautifully Soulful. The Hermitage in St. Petersburg has some of his finest. I don't see him in the Russian classic ballets for the moment.



The Prodigal Son is probably the most famous. Would George Balanchine have seen this. The Hermitage was the Tsar's private domain at the time. Also he apparently wasn't that interested in art before Diaghilev, but I can certainly relate this work to a video clip of him rehearsing Mikhail Baryshnikov in the role. Also this scene is perhaps the most powerful in the Mariinsky's interpretation with the amazing Vladimir Ponomarev playing the father.



http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://danhoran.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/rembrandt-return-of-the-prodigal-son11.jpg&imgrefurl=http://datinggod.org/2013/03/10/we-the-not-so-prodigal-sons/&h=3198&w=2536&sz=713&tbnid=cU05pn4Hc3tElM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=71&zoom=1&usg=__vX7WT86g4T8wQY-sgXTBQ3FbquE=&docid=9LGR7xcwbCofRM&sa=X&ei=qMYLUumhBoKVygGrrIC4Ag&ved=0CGkQ9QEwAQ&dur=116




I don't see any direct Rembrandt connections in the classics, such as Swan Lake. Although they were neo-gothic in theme they seem very French classical in feel because of their delicacy. The white swan acts attributed to Lev Ivanov might be the best example. I can't think of a particular work of art, but French and Italian influenced decorative art was probably all over the place. St. Petersburg architecture is a very interesting mixture of this with Russian 'flamboyance'.



Here's a one of a kind jewel box of a church in St. Petersburg that I love for its exterior design -- The Chesme Church. It's even unusually Gothic in its delicacy. I can feel Swan Lake all over the place in this one.




https://www.google.com/search?q=The+Chesme+Church&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=SssLUp3LNLLlyAGLx4GwDA&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1180&bih=731#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=AM-WIpmZ2GvWHM%3A%3BCp0OmAzIwlHLnM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252Fthumb%252F7%252F72%252FChesme_Church.jpg%252F220px-Chesme_Church.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FChesme_Church%3B220%3B294


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Here's a different way of looking at this.
Not Visual Art <--> Dance,
but Both Combined.
"Under the direction and mentorship of Diaghilev, the visual artists, composers and choreographers who worked with the Ballets Russes transformed ballet….
"Right from the start, Diaghilev was concerned with the total artwork, what he called the gesamtkunstwerk," Garafola said. "That all the pieces [of a performance] should somehow meld -- that the whole should be bigger than the individual parts…."
Bart, related to your comments about "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli this is a quote from the first post.

"In this work, as was Botticelli's desire , the essential element of the composition is the line….He sought through the values ​​of a musical line dancing and sinuous, melodic harmony of the composition…."

http://en.wikipedia....ct_-_edited.jpg

This applies very much to the central figure, Venus, who, for me, although being perfectly still, conveys a sense of dancing.

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Both sandik and dirac have mentioned the role played by tableau vivant in the development of dance..This thread has made me think of the musical "Sunday in the Park With George," based on the Seurat painting. I can imagine a ballet based on a similar premise -- or, if that is too difficult to convey without words, a ballet that begins with a tableau vivant of a famous painting, after which the figures move to music, relate to each other (or not), and -- just in time for the opening bell -- return to their frozen positions.

"Right from the start, Diaghilev was concerned with the total artwork, what he called the gesamtkunstwerk," Garafola said. "That all the pieces [of a performance] should somehow meld -- that the whole should be bigger than the individual parts…."
So how about something like this, Bart (you've graduated to a capital "B" here). I'll try not to let it get too busy.
We place Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" (it's a Big painting) or a copy in the lobby. We also project a huge background image on the stage. Then a darkened part of the stage lights up and there are dancer/actors in a tableau vivant. They pantomime, dance, act and sing ---- Venus in a leotard of course. flowers.gif
A Mariinsky couple then performs the *Odette* White Swan Duet from "Swan Lake".
The actor/dancers return to the stage and to the original tableau.The lights go off with only the huge projected image of Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" remaining.
It's a start. If you like the idea, Bart, we can get to work on the libretto. happy.pngflowers.gifmad.gifinnocent.gif
[last sentence in second to last paragraph corrected]

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Why Include the *Odette* duet from Swan Lake in my preceding scenario ? Because it could be a consummate expression of the ideal of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Also the painting is considered one of the finest in the world and certainly one of the most wonderful expressions of female beauty. The *Odette* duet is perhaps the finest work of dance and is also an exaltation of female love and beauty.

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In the above scenario the transition that the actor/dancers make from the "Birth of Venus" tableau vivant to the centerpiece, the *Odette* duet from Swan Lake, could be very wonderful.


Here is another very interesting work of art for dancers to interact with.




"Dancing Painting" -- indeed. flowers.gif

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I've been trying to think of how the Botticelli painting would relate to the white acts of Swan Lake. They share a watery milieus of course. Venus -- unlike Odette -- exists in world of light, with movement of wind and water, and with vibrant colors. Also, you have to take the music into consideration; As to music, The Birth of Venus is far from being an "adagio" painting.

Didn't someone do a dance to "Pavane for a Dead Princess," using the iconography of the Velazquez Las Meninas? I can see the dance-to-painting connection in something like that.

Goya's world has also been used in dance. Certainly a choroegrapher might be inspired by the world created by the

-- pinturas negras https://www.google.com/search?q=goya+pinturas+negras&client=firefox-a&hs=Brx&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=bAoUUt6MMNPS2wX06IDYCA&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=607

-- or the Disasters of War series https://www.google.com/search?q=goya+disasters+of+war&client=firefox-a&hs=dCd&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=mwoUUoLYFMqF2QXbzIHYCQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=607

-- or Los Caprichos., which could make a wonderful satirical set of divertissements. https://www.google.com/search?q=goya+caprichos&client=firefox-a&hs=TDd&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=zwoUUvX4EoyA2QX4uoGgDA&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=607

Also: several companies have used Granados' Goyescas for more narrowly "folk-Spanish" pieces. including ABT. Here's a photo (top left) of a production by Ballet Ara, Madrid. http://www.arademadrid.com/repertorio/nacional.asp

A virtue of Goya is that his works express movement vividly .... and often make one think of music..

Do does the work of William Blake: https://www.google.com/search?q=william+blake&client=firefox-a&hs=cxx&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=-wsUUvvqO8nD2wWI8IGQCQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=607

I can also imagine working the other way around, i.e., starting with an existing ballet concept and score -- possibly Jiri Kylian's Petite Mort and Mozart -- but giving it a completely knew look, based possibly on Giorgio di Chirico or Salvador Dali.

In fact, there are so many choices that it almost makes you want to .....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Scream.jpg

wink1.gif

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Thanks, Bart, and keep the imagination 'dancing'.

Chinese landscape art has a dance quality for me.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwhitehotmagazine.com%2Farticles%2Fpainting-art-the-graphic-novel%2F1618&h=0&w=0&sz=1&tbnid=fp9_41rcTPoWWM&tbnh=149&tbnw=338&zoom=1&docid=dUr3Y14To5h-oM&ei=8VcaUuGpI8ycigKzoYHgCw&ved=0CAEQsCU#imgdii=_

Added:

The sixth painting on the right feels like "Swan Lake". (Am I 'obsessed' with "Swan Lake"? Yes.

flowers.gif )

http://www.zen-garden.org/img/misc/RPDcj001b.jpg

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