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Illustrator Edward Gorey's Ballet Programs

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I would love to see the Bejart ballet with Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins  (if I translated correctly) "Arrival of the Giant Asparagus From an Unknown Planet." 

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I look forward to revivals of Shadows of Transparence (Sibelius/Tudor), 13, rue de Fleurus - pas de Deux (V. Thomson/H. Ross) and Tra La La with costumes by Nikki de Sainte-Phalle. 

The recent biography of Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous by Mark Dery is reviewed in a recent issue of the LRB.


He loved in particular the work of the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine who in 1974 he considered ‘the great genius in the arts today’. Balanchine was as laconic as Gorey, who liked quoting the choreographer’s frequent advice in rehearsal, ‘Better don’t do.’

Ballet, untranslatable and ephemeral, is the opposite of James [Henry, to whom he preferred Jane Austen]. Motive and character development are irrelevant, no two performances are identical. Gorey went to every performance. His balletomania partook of the same rigid routine as the rest of his life and after the Lincoln Centre’s theatre opened in 1964 it became ‘for all practical purposes’ his home for five months of the year. During the interval he would take up his position in the Grand Promenade ‘leaning in his full-length fur coat, in his full-length beard’ against one of Elie Nadelman’s massive statues of voluptuous female nudes, apparently just as much of a fixture. ‘You can often hear me bitching about somebody’s performance,’ he confessed, ‘but I’m bitching on a terribly high level.’ ‘Ballet in a Nutshell’, an illustration for Dance Magazine from 1974, shows a silhouetted figure comparing notes on the performance during the intermission. She remarks: ‘her feet are like baked potatoes wrapped in foil.’


Born to be Posthumous I just realized has a history here at Ballet Alert with Dery's Author's Call in 2012 asking us all for Edward Gorey anecdotes.



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On 7/19/2021 at 7:56 PM, pherank said:

I have to remember that one.  😉


The context of the "bitching on a high level" remark changes its coloration a bit. It's taken from an interview from 1974 and this is what Gorey said in full:



My nightmare is picking up the newspaper some day and finding that George has dropped down dead. Then, do I watch the company go into a slow decline or do I say, "That's it. I saw it. It's past," and just go away? 

I don't think the New York City Ballet is so far and away above every other company, the way Balanchine is so far and above every other choreographer, but I think it's probably the best company I've ever seen. You can often hear me bitching about somebody's performance, but I'm bitching on a terribly high level.




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