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. "
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.
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.